a year's worth of wanderlust

It's almost Easter and that means one thing: four day weekend! We're taking advantage of the time and jaunting off to Florence and Chianti to get to know my little obsession, Italia, a little better. I've been studying Italian using Rosetta Stone but since I've been a bit inconsistent with it, I'm just barely at the point where I can ask "where's the bathroom?", "how much?" and all of those other simple phrases that will hopefully be enough to get us by! During the past year's travels we've gotten by with our english, broken french, and my fluent Spanish. Joe speaks a little bit of Spanish but he learned it with the Castellano accent that turns every "s" into a "th" sound...it drove me crazy for a while but I've warmed up to it. I had to.

We've definitely accomplished what we moved here to do: travel. There are still so many places on our list but I'm beyond thankful to have been able to check off the ones below and leave with beautiful memories.

Here are some of my favorite moments, places, and thoughts from our European adventures...

shopping at my first European flea market (in Paris) and seeing a different type of vintage and market sceneparis flea

stumbling across the Louvre at night and having the square all to ourselveslouvre at night

walking along Pont Des Arts in Paris with my mom, oohing and awing at the romantic gestures and inscriptions of the love locks. we even witnessed a couple throwing their key into Le Siene followed with a passionate embrace and kiss. must go back there with Joe!pont des arts

cheering on team Atletico with Joe's college buddies in Madrid. we sat in a section called "Vomitorio"..."vomit" is spelled "vomito" in Spanish so it felt a little icky at first. the funny thing was that not even the locals could explain the name.club atletico futbol

finally understanding Joe's love for simple Spanish meals. I could eat like this every day now.spanish snacks

searching for the vista point for the Toledo bridge but instead happening upon our own little corner. we somehow managed to avoid the crowds and feel as if the entire town was ours that day.the famous toledo bridge

walking up to the awesomeness of the ancient aqueduct in Segovia (no mortar!) and then geeking out over the decorative walls and doors all over the place segovia aquaductsegovia patterns

witnessing a modern marvel being built, aka La Sagrada Familia, in Barcelonasagrada familia

and being even more impressed/amazed by what's insidesagrada familia

watching my mom enjoy "the best paella of my life!" while I cooled down with a chilled beercerveca y paella

watching the sunrise and looking for seashells on the beach with my mom in Barcelonabarcelona beach

our first week-long European holiday in Sicily. we stayed in the countryside, Ragusa...it was heaven as you can telllounging poolside at relais parco cavalonga in ragusa, sicily

but we did take a dip in the Mediterranean! this was a total locals' spot that we came across while looking for a place to eat lunch in Syracuse. i'll never forget the views from the water looking back at the city.swimming dock, syracuse

having coffee in front of Check Point Charlie in Berlin and learning about Joe's uncle who was stationed there during the Cold War. finding the perfect German pub/restaurant, Sophien 11, with my friend Caitlin. the bar tender fell in love with her and gave her free beer mugs as souvenirs.

checkpoint charlie sophien 11

seeing Christmas come to life in Brugge, Belgium. i felt like i was in the original Disneyland the entire time. what a beautifully preserved medieval place.so festive at night

giving into a guided canal tour in Brugge and going under stone bridges from the 14th century. i mean seriously? taking it all in (love the step peaks of the buildings to my right)

finding moments to look around and capture the details in Marrakech amidst the craziness of the Medinamarrakech

visiting a Berber market in the Atlas Mountains. this was the parking lot...it was pretty muddy but i loved it. atlas mountains

sipping on sweet mint tea and drooling over too many rugs in Marrakech. i wanted so badly to go through the piles myself and pick which ones I wanted to see. unfortunately that's not how it works. it's a full on presentation and very ceremonial but i was happy to oblige. we left very happy with our new magic carpet in tow. rug shopping

We've left every place very happy, it's hard not to. I can't wait to see what we come across in Italia this weekend and where our magic carpet takes us next!

skipping around segovia

segovia, spainsegovia, spain segovia, spain segovia, spain segovia, spain segovia, spain segovia, spain

I've posted so many vacation photos that I almost forgot about Segovia! During our last weekend in Madrid we opted for another day trip via high-speed train. We had planned on going to Avila but the train for Segovia left first and we figured we'd rather get somewhere sooner than later. It wasn't until we were en route that we looked up what there was to see and do in Segovia so you can imagine how satisfied we were with our last minute decision. I'd seen a piece about the city's ancient aqueduct on Rick Steves' PBS travel show (anyone else a fan?) so that was extra icing on the cake. I want to go everywhere Rick Steves goes, basically.

Segovia was beautiful and the 2,000 year old aqueduct could not have been more impressive. It's simply unreal to think of this sort of engineering being done without any modern technology, no less without any mortar - it's practically self sustaining! There was also a lot of incredible work inside the old city walls from the Segovia Cathedral (hello, 16th century) to the decorative relief-like patterns on building walls. I know that we missed seeing much much more (like this awesome building) but at least we know the city is only 30 minutes from Madrid. God I love high-speed trains, America...get with it!

holiday, we

rooftop drinks at hotel urban, madridstocking up on snacks before the gameclub atletico madrid vs norwaysiesta with a view of plaza santa ana, madridivan got married!reception with a view @ hotel ada palacewelcome to sicily!perfect poolside in ragusa, sicilylocal flavor by the poolsunset drive through ragusa, sicily view of ragusa ibla from the roadbest grilled veggies of my lifeperfect hyper-local restaurant in ragusa ibla, sicilytemple sculpture in agrigento, sicilyscala dei turchi, sicilyscala dei turchi, sicilydonnafugata castle, ragusa, sicilyancient aquaduct in segovia, spainplaza in segovia, spainexploring essentials

Hello, hello!

Wow, what an incredible whirlwind. We've return from our first full European holiday that took us to three cities in Spain and various parts of Sicily, Italy. From the bright blue waters of Syracuse to the Spanish countryside, there is truly a ton of beauty and intrigue out there. I am forever grateful to the following for making our jaunts possible: high speed trains, cheap airfares, my two little feet, and last but not least, my amazing boyfriend who is a master at driving stick.

The photos above are just a snippet of the different adventures we had in Spain (Madrid, Segovia, Toledo) and Sicily (Syracuse, Ragusa, Agrigento). There is much to share so I will post location details with lots more photos throughout the next week or two. If I can't stay on vacation forever then I can at least give myself the luxury of reflecting on it for a while. I hope you don't mind.

for photo captions, hover over each image with your mouse or click to view it in flickr.