North America, Asia, Europe · 22 Days · 51 Moments · June 2017

The Darlings' Summer 2017 in Europe

4 July 2017

Panorama looking down on Dubrovnik.
Had a great day in Dubrovnik today. Visited the Old Town which is on the sea and surrounded by its city walls. Got there early before the crowds which was lovely. Had a drink at a beautiful place on the Adriatic, just on the other side of the wall, through a hard-to-find hole in the wall (literally). Ivici, a friendly taxi driver took us on a short tour and we had the most beautiful view looking over the whole city. He told us stories of what it was like for him during the war - he was only 10 years old, and they spent years without electricity or water. They entertained themselves playing chess by candlelight. Some of the show "Game of Thrones" is filmed here, and we got to sit on the Iron Throne!

3 July 2017

Whoa. That was a pretty tiny passage for this big ship.
A little knitting with a view as we sail into the Bay of Kotor, Montenegro.

2 July 2017

Sunset view from our deck. Lovely light!
Wow. Beautiful sailing away out of Venice!
Checking in for our Adriatic cruise. That's our room, starboard aft!
Fancy room for breakfast at our hotel.

1 July 2017

18€ for one drink but it came with delicious olives and some chips and we're in St. Mark's square!
We're in Venice! We took the fast train from Rome today and will be in Venice for one night before leaving on our cruise. The view from our room is amazing.

29 June 2017

Walked up to the Vatican today and got to see Pope Francis and listen to his (Italian!) Angelus message. I think he blessed us all. Today is the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, who are the patron saints of Rome - so it's a big holiday here. Artists have created pictures with flower petals on the street around St. Peter's square.
The Italian way to start the day.

28 June 2017

Another morning walk around the city. Got caught in a bit of a downpour, but it cooled the temperature down nicely.

27 June 2017

Sweltering at the Spanish Steps. Found a spot in the shade to rest and people-watch.
The perfect selfie at the Pantheon. Had a very good tour guide here.

25 June 2017

More museums and site-seeing. So hot!
This is the wall of the building our apartment is in. The two little windows on the 2nd floor are ours. Apparently this building was a stable at one point - see the horse head decorations? I think we are in lots of tourist's photos since people often take pictures of the building as they walk by. This area is all built over top of the ruins of Pompey's Theater, where Julius Caesar was assassinated.

24 June 2017

Had an amazing view for our lunch from the top of the Castel Sant'Angelo. It was originally a mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian, and then used by the Popes as a fortress and castle. Now it is a museum. Great view of St. Peter's and 360 view of Rome from the top.

23 June 2017

"Florence for Foodies" tour was great. Much food, wine, and fun was had by all. We came home with the most amazing balsamic vinegar. Also - whenever Nathan orders a glass of milk in Italy it comes with some sugar. He is not opposed to this.
Wow. Seeing David in person was amazing. The "Nude" portion of our "Nude and Food" tour.
Arrived in Florence for a walk before most people were up and about. We binge-watched "Medici: Masters of Florence" before our trip, so the Duomo feels like a friend.
Got up before the sun to take the fast train for a day trip to Florence. Rome to Florence in 1.5 hours! Going 250km/hour.

22 June 2017

Italian zucchini are so good. Got some in the market and cooked them in our tiny kitchen along with the beautiful handmade tortellini we got from Eataly. Drinking wine and cooking makes me feel like a real Italian!
Creepy scuba-type invention at a Da Vinci exhibit where they have built many of his amazing machines.

21 June 2017

Look at all that ham! Also, a lot of prosciutto ;) This is at "Eataly", a giant gourmet department store. Four floors of amazing food and a bunch of restaurants. They have a chain of Eataly stores around the world.
The ruins of the huge Baths of Caracalla help us imagine everyday life in Roman times. Nathan used a virtual reality tour to see what the complex might have looked like during its peak. So nice that there were hardly any tourists here.
Walking by the Circus Maximus and imaging the chariot races that took place right here (with the Forum in the background). Now just a lone, older Italian man endlessly running the track in the summer heat.
Walking in Rome we run into amazing things around every corner. This is the Theater of Marcellus. Love the more modern building on top.
View from our apartment. Glen at the cafe enjoying an espresso and cornetto for breakfast.

20 June 2017

So nice to have a kitchen in our apartment so we can fix our own food when we feel like it. We didn't feel like going out to dinner so we went down and picked up some food from the nice markets and bakery in Campo de Fiori. Not bad for tossed-together meal. The cherry pie was so yummy I forgot to take a picture before we ate half of it :)
Went on a food tour of Rome and had a great time. Loved the espresso, burrata, pizza, suppli, cannoli, two pastas, cheeses, wines and gelato. Yes, it was way too much food :)

19 June 2017

New hats for the boys. Need protection from all this sun!
A very Italian lunch.
Ok, this might seem a little silly but last year while we were in Rome Nathan got some sort of insect (mosquito?) bites that were swollen and very itchy. We used Google translate to ask for some antihistamine cream at the pharmacy and the nice lady recommended this cream that smells like lavender. She said the smell reminds her of being a child. Anyway, it turned out to be the very best cream ever and immediately stops itching, like magic. From then on we've been seriously rationing the "Italian Itchy Cream" to make it last - since we didn't know when we might be back in Italy (and it may be one of the only things you can't find on Amazon -- maybe it's prescription?). So now that we're back in Italy, we're stocking up!
We felt a little foolish for missing a visit to Bernini's Four Rivers fountain on our trip last year so we visited it right away, along with the other sights in Piazza Navona. I also forgot how hot Rome is in the summer!

18 June 2017

Made it to our hotel (actually, an apartment) in time to catch the sun setting behind St. Peter's from the rooftop balcony (while sipping an Aperol Spritz - I feel so Italian!). There is also a pretty dome on a church next door. I asked what it was called and the waiter said "It's just a church. The important one is over there", and pointed to St. Peter's.
We love our apartment in Rome, where we'll be for the next two weeks. It's on the second floor overlooking a small piazza with a few restaurants. (that's me and Nathan sitting in the windows!). We're right next to the Campo de Fiori where there is a big market every day and plenty of eating/drinking/walking night life every night.
Stole the cutest olive oil bottle ever from our Turkish Airlines flight to Rome. Because you never know when you might need some emergency olive oil.
Goodbye Istanbul!
We also visited the Blue Mosque with its six minarets and gorgeous blue tile ceilings. People of Istanbul pray here many times a day. We also made a "friend" here who wanted to sell us some expensive carpets (but he really was nice!) who explained things to us. I asked if he prayed here at the Blue Mosque and he said "Yes... but not five times a day. Well, maybe sometimes on Fridays. And more often during Ramadan." He was thankful for the relatively cooler weather they had been having during Ramadan this year - he said it was gift from God.
Wow. This is the spot on the floor of the Hagia Sophia where the Byzantine Emperors were crowned. The outer circles represent the 12 apostles.
Not sure how the boys slept through the 3:23am Adhan (Muslim call to prayer), but once they finally arose we decided to skip the Istanbul city tour we had planned and instead explore on our own. We loved the Hagia Sophia. Originally built by Emperor Constantine it was a Christian Church for a thousand years before being converted to a mosque after the Ottomans conquered Constantinople. Then it was a mosque for nearly 500 years. Now it's a museum and a beautiful mash-up of history with both Muslim and Christian symbols. The Christian mosaics that survived (after being covered with plaster for hundreds of years) are lovely.
The boys and our breakfast view. (and Happy Father's Day, Glen.)

17 June 2017

While walking around Istanbul I saw this shop selling his crispy-fried-yummy-looking stuff and immediately knew I would love it. It's called kunefe and is made with some sort of pasta, with some sort of cheese in the middle, then fried golden on both sides. It's served with a topping of sweet syrup and ground pistachios (or without pistachios if you are allergic, like Nathan). So so good!
Slightly jet-lagged family selfie (with Hagia Sophia In the background) from the roof of our hotel. It will be a view for our breakfast! We only have 24 hours here in Istanbul, but we're right in the middle of the old part of the city. Amazing!
Our hotel in Istanbul, the "White House Hotel", is a lovely family-run place right in the heart of the old part of the city. Decorating choices reminiscent of the Trumps' though. Also - a lot of rose petals!
Pre-flight juices. Mint Lemonade and fresh raspberry (with basil maybe?). Yum. So much room to stretch out in business class. Nathan says "I feel so fancy!".
On our way to SFO airport! We are all very excited for our trip. We'll be away for exactly 1 month. First stop is a 24-hour layover in Istanbul and some super fast sight-seeing. Then on to Rome where we have an apartment near the Campo de Fiori for two weeks. Then an Adriatic cruise out of Venice. And finally an apartment in Venice for our last week. Lots of "firsts" for us this trip (Istanbul, Venice, Greece).

15 June 2017

One more sleep :)

12 June 2017

Starting to pack. Busy work week but we leave Friday afternoon ready or not!