Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Meet our car, Charlotte, but you can can her Lola

After a month and half of car pooling, I finally bought a car, my first car ever!

I had been doing research online for a couple of months, trying to find the one car that would satisfy all our needs. We wanted a new SUV that was small yet spacious, with good mileage and an integrated Nav/Com system. I looked into 5-6 different models like the the Nissan Rogue, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson and the Kia Sportage, all of which filled our requirements. In the end, the 2013 Ford Escape beat them all out for a spot in our household. Even though we would have to pay a bit more to include all the features we wanted, the glowing reviews of the Ford Escape really won us over.

But getting a freaking 2013 Escape was hard! The were released in late June, making them very new on the market. They were also selling like hot cakes, I dealer would tell me Friday night that they had 7 Escapes on the lot and the when we went to check them out on Saturday morning they had all been sold. After almost 2 weeks of looking at the inventory of different dealers we finally found one close-by that had the model we wanted. After a couple of days of dealing with getting insurance and approved for a car loan, we finally got to take her home.

So I now present to you the newest part of our family, Charlotte but you may call her Lola : )

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Tomas is Here!

Today is a happy day! I'm waiting for my BIL to pick me up so we can go get Tomas from the airport. I'm so excited to finally see him after having to spend more than a month apart, it felt like an eternity. It feels like we finally get to start our married lives together. : )

Sunday, July 22, 2012

3 Day Getaway: Greece & Turkey

Athens, Greece
Let me start by saying that Athens was by FAR everyone's favorite place we visited on our honeymoon trip. I had zero expectations of Athens, expecting riots and closed down stores. Instead I was greeted by friendly  strangers, awesome food and an overall great cultural experience. In Athens we decided to follow Rick Steves Athens City Walk. It's very slow paced, great for walking around at your leisure while still being exposed to some of the coolest places in Greece. I would highly recommend it.

We visited:

a Greek Orthodox church, 
walked through the smallest(and some of the prettiest) streets known to man
We walked right by some people's living rooms

Visited the Ancient Agora (Mr. Boa kept saying "Plato or Socrates may have lectured here or here.."
Visited the Acropolis
Athens was definitely a great experience! We really enjoyed the mix of new and old the city has. You could be walking down the street surrounded by modern skyscrapers and a tiny old church will pop up in the middle of the road.
For example like this little beauty
Rhodes, Greece
The Old Town in Rhodes is very pretty but there isn't very much to do other than walk around, shop, eat or go to the beach. I'm pretty sure that sounds like most peoples idea of a vacation but not to us. We just walked around all the touristy shops in the Old Town for a while and went to the beach before heading back to the cruise in the early afternoon.

Unfortunately Mr.Boa didn't let me buy these. Said they wouldn't be okay to take out in front of polite company
The beach - There were people topless- We prudish Puertorricans were astonished, then we got over it and focused on how bloody freezing the water was.

Chania, Crete, Greece

Most of the same as Rhodes, just shops and the beach. We found it kind of boring though I'm sure it has it's charm.

Istanbul, Turkey
What an experience! Istanbul is a beautiful cosmopolitan city with lots of things to see and scrumptious food. Turkey was a completely different animal because of the language barrier, we couldn't understand a word anyone was saying. Even though the city is pretty easy to navigate on your own we decided to hire a guide through Ephesus Deluxe to make our days in turkey a little bit easier.

Outside Hagia Sophia
Inside Hagia Sophia - It's breathtakingly beautiful, probably the most jaw droppingly place I've had the pleasure to visit. It's such a massive and intricate place it takes your breath away while you try to soak it all in.
The outside of the Blue Mosque
Inside the Blue Mosque
Spices at the Grand Bazaar
One of many "hallways" inside the Grand Bazaar
Ephesus, Turkey
Ephesus was a very welcome surprise on this trip. Although I was very excited to visit Istanbul, I had no expectations about Ephesus, letting me experience the city in a whole new way. The first few hours of the day were spent visiting the House of the Virgin Mary, where the she is supposed to have lived the last few years of her life.

There is a natural spring on the site of the shrine thought to have miraculous powers for fertility.
(I took a bottle of it home just in case)
There is also a wishing wall where pilgrims from all over the world have written their prayers or intentions.
We visited the ancient city of Ephesus and it's famous Celcus Library
The Ephesus Terrace Houses were incredible
No trip to Turkey could be complete without a visit to a Turkish rug showroom.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

3 Day Getaway: Sicily, Amalfi, Pompeii, Florence & Venice

Palermo, Sicily
We decided to use Citysightseeing Palermo's Hop On Hop off tour because it was a neat way to move around in a city we really didn't know much about. We took at all the way to the Palazzo Reale and then walked 20-25 minutes to the Capuchin Catacombs to see the preserved dead people. Though it was a cool thing to see up close, the walk was far to long to be comfortable or even worthwhile.

On our walk back from the catacombs towards Palazzo Reale we stopped at a small street vendor for lunch. I'm quite an adventurous eater so I just asked for what I heard was the most popular dish from locals in line. I ended up eating Pani ca meusa, a food local to Palermo which consists of chopped veal organs that have been boiled, fried and put on a bread roll. It wasn't the best thing I've ever had but definitely not the worst either.

After lunch we visited Palazzo Reale and the Capella Palentina that resides in it.
Palazzo Reale

Capella Palentina
With a quick stop at a Palermos Cathedral we went back to the ship in the early afternoon to catch up on some ZZZ'ss.
Palermo Cathedral

Inside of the Palermo Cathedral

Naples, Italy - Visited Amalfi & Pompei

The last port of call on our Mediterranean cruise adventure was Naples, Italy. I was dead set on visiting the Amalfi Coast after seeing so many gorgeous pictures of the area and Tomas was really interested in going to Pompei. Since both of these places were a fair distance from Naples, we decided to book a Cruisetour through the Royal Caribbean to make sure we'd get back to the ship on time. We drove about 1 hour to Salermo where we boarded a small boat that took us along the Amalfi Coast and docked in Amalfi for a couple of hours.

Our visit to Amalfi, although extremely brief, made us fall in love with the small town. It's a tiny place that pack a whole bunch of character and has an air of romance and relaxation. I wouldn't hesitate to book another trip to Italy, just to visit Amalfi again and ride along the Amalfi Coast stopping at different towns on the way.

On our way back to the ship after visiting Amalfi, we stopped at Pompei. I personally considered Pompei to be a waste of my valuable honeymoon time. It was hot, humid and all there is to do is walk around looking at old rocks. (I apologize from my lack of history enthusiasm but by that point I had seen my fair share of ancient ruins). 

We also hated being on a organized tour, having other people be in charge of our time was not our idea of fun. The positive is that now we now know not to sign up for one ever again. We much prefer doing it ourselves or through a private tour company.

After visiting our last port of call, Sicily the ship made its way back to Civitavecchia where we disembarked. A quick train later we were back in Rome and we were back at venturing the Eternal City.

Florence, Italy

Early the next morning we took a train ride to Florence, Italy where we visited The Uffizi Gallery, The Academia, The Duomo and the Basilica of Santa Croce.

Ponte Vecchio
Gorgeous Street in Florence
I was slightly disappointed with Florence. After falling in love with an art history class in college, Florence was the city I was most interested in visiting. Although the museums and architecture were absolutely marvelous, Florence is better suited to the "wander around aimlessly traveler" than to my "go go go" style. You can visit most of the attractions in a couple of leisurely hours and still have plenty of time to walk around.

Venice, Italy

Our next to last day in Europe was spent getting lost in the romantic city of Venice, Italy.
Piazza San Marco
Bridge of Sighs in the distance
Rialto Bridge
Mandatory Tourist Gondola Ride
We visited Venice with no plan in mind other than just to wander around savoring the delicious food available at every corner. We walked (got lost) around the city for almost 9 straight hours and what a glorious 9 hours it was! It was as if the whole city were a huge attraction by itself, there was no need to visit museums when the city had so much to offer. I'm aware the same could be said about other cities we visited but Venice was the only one we were really in awe of. It's safe to say it was one of the places I was most sad to leave (but I'll definitively be back someday).