Monday, September 16, 2013

Another year here!

We started our 3rd year here in Palm Coast this summer!  Last year, I wrote about the changes we'd experienced. I think I'll continue in that trend...

  • In December, we adopted a 3rd dog!  Buddy (formerly known as "Chowder") is a Chow mixed with something (we think Shiba Inu...?) who quickly became a part of our family. He is such a snuggler! Loves to sleep, and bark. He really, really loves to bark...
  • We are still Disney Annual Pass holders, though we haven't been as much this past year.
  • We celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary in Italy this summer!
  • Jason got married to Erin and they are expecting a baby this March!!
  • I am definitely no longer a rookie in my field, and am starting to establish myself and my reputation as a counselor. This is exciting to me, as I feel confident that I am exactly where I belong.
 All in all, we love living here. I am excited to see how many things have changed...and how much hasn't!

Viva Italia!

To say that we had a great time in Italy would be a gross understatement. We made memories that will last us for the rest of our lives. I kept a very detailed journal of our time overseas, and am thrilled that I took the time to, because already, 2 months later, I am already forgetting the details and love re-reading what I'd written. 

In a nutshell, and because I like lists, here are the highlights and the lows:

1. Meeting up with Kim and John Gridley upon our arrival in Rome, and spending the evening with them at a restaurant near their hotel, in the "Park Ave of Rome."
2. Realizing the moment I fell in love with Italy (while on a tour bus, driving through the city to the Vatican/Sistine Chapel) and seeing how utterly surrounded we were by sheer beauty! Every single place we looked - absolutely gorgeous.
3. The history...the incredible history of it all! During a visit to the Colosseum, we learned that in Rome, anything built after the 1600's was considered "new!"
4. Walking on a mosaic tiled floor that was built in the year 2 AD inside the Vatican. The year TWO!
5. Seeing where St Peter (from the Bible!) was buried - and experiencing the Sistine chapel. It was an experience, that's for sure. No talking or photos allowed in there! I'd been told that it was smaller than I'd expect...not so! It was enormous, and even the walls were ornate and impressive and I can't imagine how Michelangelo did all of that.
5. Sorrento was our favorite city, probably because it was on the coast. I am so proud of Andrew for doing the chair lift with me on the island of Capri, 1100 feet above the sea!
6. In Sorrento, we spent one evening in the best pizza place in the world, eating the best pizza on the planet! This was what it was all meal of the trip by far.
7. We saw The David in Florence and it was even more breathtaking than I could have imagined. I loved learning about Michelangelo's personality! He was such a total introvert and considered himself a sculptor (and boy, was he!) but he still was able to paint one of the very greatest masterpieces of all time.
8. We ditched the 2nd tour of the day and wandered all around through the city, including the leather market, and marveled in the marble structures that were all over.
9. Finding ourselves at the end of a street, and facing Ponte Vecchio - a place I'd read about and seen pictures of, and we simply happened upon it!
10. This was probably the most memorable part of the trip...Ponte Vecchio used to be homes/apartments, but were later transformed into shops (tanners, butchers, etc) but were now nothing but very, very super fancy jewelry shops. I was one of many, many women drooling over the shiny gold and diamonds in their display windows. Andrew and I saw one diamond ring in particular that was just so unique and beautiful - and he BOUGHT IT FOR ME! Andrew bought me an 18k white gold, made in Italy, diamond ring. It was a precious moment, and the shop owners were genuinely happy for me. It was a woman whose parents sent her to Boston to learn English and go to college, and her father, who spoke no English.We'd wanted to purchase something more than a trinket to bring home - Andrew reasoned that this (unlike the furniture and artwork we'd liked) would be easy to pack :)
11. In Venice, we took a water taxi to San Marco Square, where we'd missed a tour. We opted to walk (as opposed to taking the overcrowded, overpriced water taxi) back to our hotel. This ended up being a 6 hour walk where we got completely lost in Venice. It was so incredibly fun picking which street after gorgeous street to wander down, only to find a bridge that led to more exquisite beauty.

1. After all of that, I am having a hard time thinking of any!
2. Part of Italy's "charm" was that the tables were so incredibly close to one another. This became less and less charming as the time grew on, and we longed for our good ol' American personal space!
3. The bathrooms in Venice and Florence were unbelievable small! The toilets and sinks were practically IN the shower stalls!
4. Like a good girl, I'd picked my seats on our 3 return flights well ahead of time. The day before flying home, we found wifi and logged in to "check in" to our flights...however, at about 7am the morning we were to fly home (at 11am) I checked my email on a whim, only to find that our flights had been cancelled, "sorry for any inconvenience." Loooooong story short, we were re-routed 4 times, and had to RUN through Germany and Canada's airports to make it to our connecting flights as they were finishing up boarding...and our seats were all over the place, so we had to finagle that at the very, very last minute. BUT - we made it home, and made it safely.

All in all, we had a fabulous time and are eternally grateful that we were able to do all that we did. This was truly a once in a lifetime experience for Drew and I - and to be able to celebrate 10 years of marriage in such a way was amazing to me.