Planning for Paris

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In less than a month we're heading back to Paris for a quick, 3-day visit. I could not be more excited. Although, trying to figure out what to do during such a short visit is a bit overwhelming! I'm consulting Oh Joy's mini-guide to Paris and it's helping a bunch (hello, trampolines in a park?!). Our plan is to pick one thing to definitely do each day and then just enjoy the rest of the day walking around and eating lots of croissants.

It's hard to believe that the last time we were in Paris little Livia was only three months old(!) and we were frazzled new parents. Well, we're still frazzled, but suffice to say we are excited to visit Paris this time around because 17-month old Livia is going to get to experience quite a bit of it. Livia is at a stage where she just loves to walk and touch everything, so Paris should be visually stimulating for her.

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Any Paris suggestions for us? Any kid-friendly restaurants (does this even exist in Paris)?

An afternoon in Bologna, Italy

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Earlier this week we took a quick trip to Bologna with my parents. They've now visited Florence enough times that branching out and seeing new cities is a must!

We were on a time crunch -- trying to leave and get back during the hours Livia is at asilo nido -- so we only had about four full hours in the city, but it was great time. We had an amazing lunch that I'll write about next week, but the city itself is also worth talking about.

For me, Bologna feels so different than cities like Florence, Venice or even Rome to some extent. Sure, there is a lot of historical stuff to see, but it feels very much like a modern, lived-in city. Bustling, a little gritty, full. No tourists really, which was a nice change of pace.

We popped into Eataly for a quick cafe and to browse. The Bologna outpost is a fraction of the size of the Rome or NYC, but still had some neat items. My absolute favorite thing was all of the cookbooks available in both English and Italian. If you are in need of cookbooks for very particular regional types of cooking, it was an awesome resource.

10 Things To Do While Visiting the Amalfi Coast

10 Things To Do While Visiting the Amalfi Coast
10 Things To Do While Visiting the Amalfi Coast

This past weekend, my friends and I went on truly one of the most incredible and beautiful trips to the Amalfi Coast. In our three days there, we covered Capri, Anacapri, Positiano and Pompeii. I loved just about everything I did, but if I had to only pick 10 things to do and/or see and/or eat while visiting the Amalfi Coast, these would be them:

  1. Take a boat tour around the island of Capri.
  2. Try the freshly squeezed, freshly made orange-lemon slushy. For those of you really looking to “relax”, make sure to ask for the “special”, with a little splash of booze.
  3. Do a sampling of the different limoncellos from the original town it was invented in.
  4. Design and customize your own pair of beautiful leather sandals - they will make them right in front you!
  5. Take the chairlift to the top of Mt. Solaro. The 13-minute ride up to the top is truly one of the peaceful experiences I’ve had. Don’t forget your camera - you wont want to miss that photo-op!
  6. Take a “topless taxi” back down to the bottom of Capri!
  7. Take a boat tour from Positano.
  8. For those adrenaline seekers-go cliff jumping and swimming through incredible caves.
  9. Visit Vini e Panini for the best panini you will have while you are in Italy. I ordered a Panini on Foccia bread with turkey, salami, goat cheese, pesto, balsamic vinegar, goat cheese, tomato and rocket. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
  10. Take a guided tour through the ruins of Pompeii. I emphasize guided because my friends and I thought we would try and save a few bucks and figure it out on our own…Let’s just say that didn’t work out to well. It’s worth the extra 9 Euros.

-Olivia

Thinking of Chianti...

During our first August in Italy (in 2011), we decided to take a last-minute, weeklong trip to an agriturismo just a forty minute drive from Florence. It was an amazing week. We relaxed, drove aimlessly around the backroads of Tuscany, took family photos on a dusty road, ate like pigs at Dario's in Panzano, and generally had a fantastic time.

We thought about venturing to the countryside again this August, but we've been so busy with work that it wasn't possible. Even though we've got plans for more travel in the fall, I still find myself wanting to rent a car and drive out to the countryside with the Hash crew.

I had a conversation with a friend/client a few weeks ago about how, as an American expat in Europe, you feel pressured to constantly be traveling to new places. See new things! Try new food! Can you believe where RyanAir can take you?! Sometimes, however, you just find a place that you love and want to keep going back. That's how I feel every time I'm in the countryside around Greve/Panzano.

I'm not a natural "relaxer" (read: I'm high strung), nor am I even remotely close to being "outdoorsy", but something about the countryside in Tuscany just sets me at ease. I can kick back and just let my mind rest.