September 28, 2014

Fall Fun: Football & Festivals

Whoa alliteration!

I hope everyone is off to a pleasant start this week. Corey and I had quite an idyllic autumn weekend. I made sure to get all of my school work done Friday evening so that I wouldn't have to go in to work at all. Saturday afternoon we set out to Columbus for the Ohio State vs. UC football game.

Little bits of Summer were changing over to Fall all over campus. So pretty!

The game was really fun and it was a nice change of pace from the terribly freezing cold game we went to last year. OSU got a bit close for comfort to UC there before the half but pulled off a 50-28 win.

I was of coursed very entertained by TBDBITL's Wizard of Oz show as well as the young man who ran onto the field during the game and was body slammed to the ground by one of the assistant coaches! Can't attend a sporting event without seeing one of those in your lifetime!

On Sunday I had a trip to Target with my mom which I haven't done in so long. I was overdue too because the dollar section had so many new goodies for Halloween and Thanksgiving. I got the cutest little orange and black chevron pillows for my kids' reading chairs in the classroom.

In the evening Corey and I went to the Dayton Art Institute's Oktoberfest. Thanks Beth for giving Corey the tickets!

The festival was really nice. I enjoyed some German dunkel bier and from the Dublin Pub tent an incredible Guinness brat with sauerkraut on a pretzel bun.

Though we were at a German fest Corey opted for some Thai/Chinese food which was actually really delicious!

We also browsed the artisan tents which had some really nice pieces from talented local artists. I really wanted a black and white painting of a Parisian street with little pops of color throughout. It was so pretty--but also $850 dollars. The alpaca wool blanket/shawl/scarf thing I also wanted was $139 so I left the festival happy, but empty handed!

What's your favorite Oktoberfest event?

September 23, 2014

Disappointed in Rome

The end of the travel blogs are near! I love having the memories documented here on my blog, but next time I travel you might be getting the condensed version ;)

Rome was the last big city before some of our group ended their trip and headed home while the rest of us traveled to Greece.

When we arrived in from Florence our guide Claudia took us on a quick walk to the Spanish Steps and The Trevi Fountain before dinner.

The Spanish Steps are crowded and busy with pushy men selling trinkets and tourists alike. Megan and I snapped an obligatory photo since we were there but were anxious to walk down the street to the Trevi Fountain.

Now, there was a lot of restoration going on around Europe in general but Rome was just awful! I knew before leaving for Europe that the Trevi Fountain was undergoing some extensive restoration, but you don't know how disappointing that is until you're standing right in front of all that scaffolding ugliness.

You could say it was just a bit of bad timing since the old bits of course need the upkeep but I felt so robbed! The city did their best to appease tourists and allowed you to briskly walk across a platform built over the fountain for a closer look. It's drained, closed, and covered until October 2015.

Dinner was an entertaining affair with lots of antipasti, pasta dishes, and wine. Megan and I snatched up our leftover bottle on the go as we all hopped back on the bus for an evening tour of the city. The ruins look kind of cool lit up at night, but if you remember back to Paris bus tours aren't my thing.

The next morning we were up early for a tour with a city guide in The Vatican and Roman Forum. I liked our guide because she was bold and made sure our group got the best view of popular spots.

St. Peter's Basilica was very grand and beautiful.

I will be honest and tell you that we had been traveling so quickly from city to city and I saw so much that I was worn out and at this point uninterested as grand as everything was.

On the next part of our tour our guide walked us past the Colosseum but instead of using our ROMA pass to enter, she took us inside the Roman Forum.

The ancient plaza was interesting and all, but I would've much rather gone inside the Colosseum.

Our guide could tell interest was quickly fading under hot sun and our tour thankfully ended at the Roman Forum.

It was then around lunchtime and Claudia suggested that for our free afternoon we walk back to the Vatican if we wanted to see the Sistine Chapel since most other tourists would be resting for lunch.

Turns out the line was still pretty long and those of us who stayed took turns hopping out to grab a bite to eat. We were harassed by a scam artist who wanted us to pay him to jump the line. Because we declined he went on to bash Americans for a good while. He was the only person I encountered on the whole trip who was unkind and hateful toward us for being American. I think being unsuccessful at getting a rise out of us nor getting our money pissed him off even more.

We laughed off his ignorance and waited, waited, and waited some more. Finally we entered in the Vatican Museum and paid more euros than I though worth it. You have to walk through the whole museum before getting to the Sistine chapel so that we did as quickly as we could.

The Sistine Chapel was cool to see and I'm glad I had the experience but it's not my favorite kind of art so after a few minutes gaze I was ready to go.

I wanted to use the rest of my ROMA pass and visit the Colosseum but since the Vatican took so long, Megan and I didn't think we'd have enough time to make it to the other side of the city and back in time for dinner.

We were majorly disappointed because we wanted to see it more than the Sistine Chapel and had hoped the chapel would've been quicker. We cheered ourselves up though by buying some Birkenstocks and gelato. The sandals are so popular in Europe and the style had grown on us.

P.S. they're the most comfortable shoe I've ever owned. They took no time to break in and were perfect for long walking days and cobbled stoned streets. I only wish I'd had them from the beginning of my trip!

A quick metro ride later we were back at the hotel and got ready for our last big group dinner. After dinner we bought more wine and took it up to the rooftop terrace of our hotel overlooking the city. 

Our last hurrah as one large group was fun as we reminisced and laughed together, our first day in London feeling as if it were a lifetime ago. Memories tucked away, it was sad to say good-bye the next morning to about half of our group. 

After they set off to the airport, the rest of us traveled to Pompeii where had a tour before getting on an overnight ship to Greece. 

Pompeii's history was fascinating though visiting was nothing to write home about. I think I was just bursting with excitement and ready to be on a beach in Greece! That night I rolled around in my bed, dramamine coursing through my veins and slept as best I could on the rockiest sea voyage I'd ever been on. But hey, no complaints here because we made it! 

Kali mera, Greece!

September 21, 2014

Chianti Wine Region of Italy

We woke up on our last morning in Florence ready to set out for the Chianti wine region for a tasting at Castello di Verrazzno. Our bus driver first took us to the best lookout point over the whole city of Florence for a proper goodbye.

The gorgeous panoramic view of the city was the perfect way to leave instead of only memories of sleepily piling onto a bus before the sun has poked it's way over the horizon.

Once back on the road it was hard to stay awake (bus sleep is how anyone was able to function properly on such a fast paced tour!) but once we started rolling through the hills of Tuscany the beautiful vineyards were enough to capture my attention.

We arrived at Castello di Verrazzano, named for the Verrazzano family of which the great Navigator Giovanni Verazzano came from. He discovered the bay of New York and a lot of the eastern American coast. A famous bridge in New York is named after him. 

The Florentine family of Ridolfi succeeded the Verrazzano's and now the winery is what it stands as today by way of the Capellini family. 

Our tour guide met us just outside the villa gates and proceeded to take us on a tour through the wine cellars. He had a gorgeous thick Italian accent and a bit of humor that kept us chuckling throughout his whole tour.

Inside the cellars we saw the massive barrels the wine is aged in and learned a bit of the process. I also learned a good bit about aging wine once it's in the bottle and how long you should wait to drink certain types.

In one room our guide showed us some impressively old bottles of unopened wine.

After our tour we sat down in an open room overlooking the vineyard to a tasting that came with a light meal of salad, meats and cheeses.

Everything was so delicious! The balsamic dressing that they also age from grapes was a true balsamic syrup (none of that fake salad dressing stuff). A thick and aged dressing with a sweet delicious taste over the cheeses. It was the kind of dressing that could be poured over ice cream even! We sampled just a spoonful each. The liquid takes many years to age and the small 100ml bottle packed a heavy price tag!

Of the wine the Chianti Classico was my favorite. Sweet and delicious! For dessert we had biscotti and espresso along with a "dessert wine", Grappa di Verrazzano. Grappa is made from the distillation of fresh grape skins from the vinification of the classico wine. It is very, very strong and you're only served a very small amount in what looks like a shot glass. 

Don't take it as a shot though or you will get a head rush and be put into a coughing fit like no other. With a very distinct taste, you either love grappa or you hate it. 

After dining Megan and I settled on buying bottles of the Chianti Classico and after one last look at the view hopped back on the bus with the others and headed to Rome.

If you are ever in Italy a visit to the Chianti wine region nestled within Tuscany is a must! It's so beautiful and who doesn't love a good wine tasting?


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