Thursday, May 31, 2012

European Adventure Part 1 - South of France

Well a brief commercial break turned into an eternity, but I am finally back and ready to share! 

Our adventure began in the South of France with Concetta and Christie! Mom and I arrived Wednesday (after a brief train incident) and headed straight to Avignon. Determined to take it all in, we spent the afternoon taking a tour of the town, grabbing a bite to eat and doing a little shopping before heading back to Vers. 

Palais des Papes in Avignon
Vers was the very small, charming town where we were staying. The house we stayed in was something out of a fairytale - complete with winding stone staircases, huge stone rooms, and a terrace with sweeping views. 

The House
Our stairwell

Wednesday is apparently similar to Sundays in Vers and almost every restaurant was closed for dinner. We decided to dress up anyways, have some drinks on the terrace, head into town and go to one of the only open restaurants: a Thai restaurant. Though it was not even remotely French, it was delicious!!

Self timer success
Concetta and I before dinner
We began every morning by waking up, heading to the local patisserie and picking up some breakfast before heading out for the day. 

On Thursday morning, after breakfast, we headed to the Saint Paul Asylum in St. Remy. This asylum is where Van Gogh was held shortly after cutting his ear. It was also where he got the inspiration for, and painted, some of his most famous paintings. I was blown away by the beauty of St. Remy. It was absolutely incredible to see prints of these paintings hanging right next to where the inspiration was taken. 

(**A bit of a side story about St. Paul Asylum - this asylum is still a working asylum and we got a little lost upon entering the museum. We entered some open iron gates and headed towards the clinic. About the time we realized the gates were closing with no other way out, we also realized we were in the real asylum part of the property. We all looked at each other and before Concetta and I had time to react our Moms were already running back through the gates. Hello?! Apparently it was every woman for herself here...even when they are your mom! Luckily we made it back through before we were stuck at St. Paul for good. And they thought it was hilarious! )

Van Gogh's room
Gardens outside of Van Gogh's room
After lunch in St. Remy we headed back to Vers for a kayaking adventure to the Pont Du Gard. During this adventure, we were giving one rule - "stay straight". Unfortunately Mom and I were not the best at following these rules and instead spent 1/3 of our time sideways. We did figure out the steering about halfway through and make it to the Pont Du Gard, which was totally worth the few rock run-ins we had. :)

Before our adventure
Pont Du Gard from our kayak
Thursday night we had a round of drinks on our terrace, headed to a nice dinner, and then decided to try and see the Pont Du Gard again at sunset. We made it about .02 miles into the parking lot and took a picture before the security guard came running after us and said in a not so friendly manner that this was "forbidden". Whoops! And off we went. 

At least it was a successful picture! 
Friday was only a half day for Mom and I before we headed back to Paris, so we spent the morning having some girl talk over pain au chocolats and coca cola lights. It was the perfect way to start the next leg of the trip.

Next up is Paris!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


One more brief commercial break before I relive our wonderful vacation.

BIG NEWS. I have declared myself a hesi-tarian. A what? Basically I am a wanna be vegetarian with a little hesitation....get it.... a hesi-tarian.

It all started one fateful night around the age of eight. Concetta and I were having dinner with Dad at Bill's Barbecue in Hampton. One of us made the mistake of asking what part of the body a hot dog came from, Dad told us about his time visiting a meat processing plant, and Concetta and I never, ever picked up a hot dog again.

Recently, I have become more and more intrigued by the vegetarian lifestyle. A little girl who gave up hot dogs and corn dogs cold turkey can give up anything right? 

Well, sort of. I realized I loved my grandpa's cooking and the occasional crab cake or Subway turkey sandwich too much to give up meat all together. Instead, I have decided to eat completely vegetarian five days a week. That means breakfast, lunch and dinner will have absolutely no meat for whichever five days of the week I choose.

I have been doing this for about a month and a half now (with the exception of a few missed days on our trip) and it has been surprisingly easy!

You can make just about everything with meatless options! I have been making all sorts of things like eggplant parmesan, veggie burgers, veggie meat (similar to veggie burgers) tacos and more!

So far I am loving the change but it is nice to have the option to eat a meat dish too - especially since I am headed home for part of this weekend. Being back on the bay means good seafood is not hard to find, especially when Papa and Nama are back in town. Guess I better choose my two days wisely this week!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Home Again, Home Again.

At the end of every vacation my grandparents used to say "Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jog". Now, every time I am heading back to my home, that phrase always comes to mind. For some reason it makes the sad thought of leaving a wonderful vacation a little better, even if you are still wishing for a few extra vacation days to appear out of thin air. 

After some much needed R&R 11 days of running around three wonderful cities - we are all back from Europe! While it is good to be back in the land of oversized portions and weaker currency (haha), I certainly miss my most recent brush with European life.

There is A LOT to write about but for now I just wanted to have a quick pop in while I readjust to real life.  However, I am very glad that returning to that "real life" has meant returning to a great job, seeing good friends, and attending a bridal shower and a graduation party.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful start to their summer! Congratulations to all of the graduates and all of the brides (and grooms) to be. Doesn't it seem like time is flying by?! 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


May I just say that I believe this month is going to be the second best month of this least until December rolls around and throws some Christmas cheer in the mix....? 

Why is May going to be so great? Because our family is at off on another adventure!! Katie will be sitting this one out so she can take a summer class in the Bahamas (seriously, how lucky is that?!), but the rest of us we will be headed on a mini European vacation! 

Mom and I will start out our trip in the south of France with Concetta and Christie for some mother and daughter R&R. We will then travel to Paris to meet up with Dad, Jon (on his first international vacation!), Alice and Wayne. After some best friend time in the SOF and some family time in Paris, Jon and I will catch the train to London, which is where we will be staying for the remainder of the trip. 

I absolutely cannot wait to spend time traveling with so many people I love (though I will miss my baby sis)! I will be leaving in less than a week, but if you have any recommendations for any of the above countries please send them my way!!!! 

Is anyone else headed on a vacation soon?!