Tag Archives: architecture

When in Rome

The last stop in vacation was the ancient city of Rome! Our travel agent, who is also a very dear friend of mine, told us that we needed to have a train ride through Europe. I forgot how much I love to ride through Europe by train!

But one thing I haven’t ever done is ride through Tuscany. Can someone buy me a vineyard there? ;)

If you're lucky enough to find someone to be awkward with you, you know it's for real :) <3

 

We are capable of taking a good picture though :-D

A four hour train ride can seem like forever, but we finally reached Rome!

We were staying in the Piazza Fiume at the Hotel Fiume. This hotel was PIMP (for lack of better words). We had stayed in pretty quaint hotels in the other cities. And by quaint I mean really small and not very modern ;) This was the most modern hotel we stayed in, but as the last stop in our trip, we needed that extra comfort.

Only one good picture at night of the place. ...whoops

Once we dropped our bags, we decided to walk to the Spanish Steps. But before that, we grabbed some lunch at a pizzeria near our hotel. I got the Roman style pizza and REB got the Napoli style.

You might remember in the previous post that we weren’t a huge fan of the Roman style pizza. We preferred the Venetian. I know it doesn’t look it, but the minute we let our pizza cool and we cut into it, it just fell apart :\ The flavors were kind of there, but they weren’t as seasoned or flavorful as the pizzas in Venice. Kind of a shame, but that didn’t stop us from eating the entire thing ;)

A good end to lunch!

So something I didn’t know about Rome is that we actually stayed in the ancient city of Rome. Outside the city wall (which is still in tact by the way!) is the rest of the city of Rome. I assume that’s where most people live and work and drive. The ancient city is actually super tiny and we could have walked every where, but taking a cab ride there is ridiculously cheap. However, we did walk. We walked through this underground tunnel to reach the Piazza di Spagna and went to see the Spanish Steps!

From there we walked up to the Medici house and walked around their gardens. Then we walked to the Piazza di Popolo, which actually faces directly to St. Peters Basilica in the Vatican City. But before we walked through the Medici gardens, we got a good view of the ancient city.

That dome waaaay in the back is St. Peters!

After walking through the gardens and seeing the Steps, we headed south towards the Trevi Fountain. It was CROWDED when we got there. It was getting to be evening time by then, so we decided to get some dinner and then go back to the fountain at night.

Gorgeous by night :)

The fountain is absolutely beautiful in person. The details in the carving, the columns, it was just gorgeous. We did throw a coin in while we were there. I guess that means we’re going back one day ;)

The next morning we got up super early to beat the crowd at the Colosseum. It was also REB’s birthday that day! Beating the crowd is one of the best tips I can give anyone wanting to see a huge famous landmark in a huge city.

Besides, the light is so beautiful in the morning. Made the whole place glow and look golden!
We did go inside the Colosseum, and it is just magnificent in there. I really can’t describe it in words…

SO WE’LL USE PICTURES! HOORAY!

We actually did the “Caesar Shuffle” from the Colosseum to the Palatino, Roman Forum, up to the Campadoglio (the capital house), and then up to the Pantheon.

Augusta's Palace in the Palatino

 

The Roman Forum

 

From there we walked to the Pantheon, which is another fantastic monument. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a good shot of the whole thing since it was so ridiculously crowded there. But I did get a few shots of the details…

After that, it was time for one of my favorite things: time to eat!
Like I said earlier, it was REB’s birthday, so we had to have a nice feast. We knew we weren’t going to eat until much later, so we made the most of our mid-day meal.

Limoncello and Paparadelle con Funghi

He got a shot of Limoncello and got this amazing ribbon pasta with the mushrooms. We love all kinds of pasta, but he’s always wanted to try this particular kind. …So when in Rome… ;)

Me? I wanted risotto. I asked the waiter what kind of risotto they had because their menu just said “risotto” on it. He asked me what kind I wanted. He suggested mushroom and I said “Sure”. So what did they do? They made me something not even on their menu.

I don’t think I need to tell you that it was absolutely delicious. The picture speaks for itself!!

After our wonderful lunch, we had a lot of time to kill. I actually surprised REB with a ghost story tour of Rome at night, and we had a lot of hours to kill. So we hopped a cab and decided to go to the Vatican City.

St. Peter’s Basilica is quite beautiful. And I don’t mean any disrespect, but…it seemed a little over the top.  Just wasn’t our thing, I guess. They claimed to have strict rules about who they let in based on what they’re wearing (as in, dress nicely because it’s a place of worship), but we saw them letting in girls with the shortest shirts or low-cut shirts. Just seemed more like a show than anything else.

But I won’t lie, it is beautifully constructed.

Pope's window to address the people

 

This doesn't even show the whole thing, but it's at least the main part. Someone buy me a wide angle lens so I won't feel deprived next time ;)

 

So the ghost tour of Rome at night was so much fun! We also took a crypts and catacombs tour the following day, but photography wasn’t allowed on that one since we were in churches and places of respect or whatever. Anyway, before we set off to meet our group at San Andreas Basilica, we had to get some gelato ;)

There was this great gelato shop by our hotel called Flor. And it was SO good. It was also open until the wee hours of the morning. The nicest people worked there so we made sure to stop in there at least once or twice a day :)

So! We met our group at the church and found out our tour guide, who went to both Michigan State and Michigan (woot!). So we learned some cool stories based on the areas we were walking around.

The first stop was in the Piazza Campo dei Fiori to see the statue of Giordano Bruno.

The story goes that the pope killed him because this guy was a scientist like Galileo and his ideas were “dangerous”.  Anyway, they burned him at the stake while he was alive. When Rome became its own democratic country, they built this statue facing the Vatican to remind the church of its past crimes and why people should have democracy. We just liked how you know, they built this statue as an apology to his family. 200 years later.

Then we walked to the next site and on our way we passed by this old church that had skulls all over it.

This church was used to bury the people who died from the plague. Except, these were people who didn’t have families or have money for a burial. So the monks would just scout the streets for dead bodies and if someone clearly didn’t have a family, they would take the person and give them a proper burial and put them in the catacombs below the church. This is very similar to the church we saw the following day on our catacombs and crypts tour. We went to the Capuchin Crypt, which has six “rooms” made entirely out of the bones of monks.

From there, we walked to another little piazza and our tour guide asked us, “So which one of these buildings has a window where you think a potion maker would live?” So we all looked around and looked up and then we saw this window:

The top window there was the home of a woman who was a potion maker. The story goes she used to make an odorless, tasteless poison (I always think if Iocaine powder from the Princess Bride haha), disguise it as holy water and sell it to women who were in bad marriages where their husbands beat them or whatever. However one woman had a change of heart about killing her husband so she turned this potion maker in to the police and she was killed. The story goes if you’re a man with wickedness in your heart, you can see her ghost wandering the piazza at sunrise.

The last part of our brought us here, the Castle of Saint Angelo. It’s an absolutely beautiful building, with a dark story behind it… ;)

This was home to the Barberini Family. The head the of the family was a bad dude, so the rest of the family killed him so they wouldn’t be caught up in beatings, lashings, etc. The pope didn’t like this so he had the family killed. If you remember from the story of Giordano Bruno, the pope used to be the mayor of the city, not just a religious figure. So, because he ruled the city, he had the mother beheaded and the other children killed for turning against this rich man Barberini.
However, the youngest in the family, a boy, was about 12 years old and couldn’t be tried as an adult. So his punishment was to be castrated so that he couldn’t carry on the Barberini name or inherit the estate. If you’ve been to Rome before, make sure you stop by the Piazza Barberini, named for the family. What is it with Romans building monuments in the name of people wrongfully killed as a form of apology? I guess better late than never!
Anyway, the story goes is at sunrise you can hear the screams of the mother as she worries for her son’s punishment, and you can see her ghost holding her head wandering the bridge looking for her son. That is, you’ll only see her if you are a man with a wicked heart ;)

This tour and the one we took the next day were so amazing and interesting. It was a great way to see the city and hear some of the stories that people still talk about today!

I know we had the most fun in Paris, but Rome definitely come in second. It’s such a beautiful, ancient city with gorgeous architecture and culture.

whoosh!

Our entire trip was just amazing.  It didn’t last nearly long enough, even though we were happy to be home (does that even make sense? haha). We’ve taken away so many memories and so many photos. We’re already planning our next trip to Europe! There is so much more to see!

I’ll be posting one more with just some pictures from Paris since I mainly talked about the food in that post ;)
However, I hope you all enjoyed the series of posts related to our honeymoon! Ciao lovelies! <3

Bachelorette weekend

My last days of singledom. In just a short 60-some-odd days, I’ll be a Mrs. I won’t lie to you, it’s pretty weird to think of it like that. I’m so excited though! And will probably stress and freak out a few weeks right before because I always freak out about something.

REB and I are having a traditional South Indian wedding, not sure if I ever mentioned that before. So that meant that my bridesmaids needed saris. Now, we could have just gone to some place here in Michigan, but we would have been royally ripped off since there isn’t a huge Indian district. There are a ton of Indian people here, don’t get me wrong, but not enough clothing stores to warrant a “good deal” when you see them. One option was to order them from India, but that might take longer than we need. So we decided to head to Chicago to visit my sister and make a trip to Devon Ave. aka Little India. It was also decided that while we were there, we would club the weekend with my bachelorette party since I’d be there with three of my four bridesmaids (the fourth lives out of state – we missed you AI!).

I have to say it was probably one of the most fun weekends I’ve ever had! I’ve been to Chicago more times than I can count. It helps having family there, but this time it was just on another level of fun! We did a lot of tourist-y things; something we don’t get to do that often, but it’s always fun. We got the wedding things done that needed to get done, and we also had some fun mixed in.

We left very early on Sunday morning so we could get to Chicago by noon or 1 p.m. We brought the lovely Danny Wood along for the ride. Have I mentioned how much I love my friends? They are a riot and so much fun to be around :)

I won’t go into all the details of Danny Wood and how he came to be, but it began in college with me and that adorable girl you see in the sunglasses. It became an inside joke and has traveled with us for almost…what…9 years now? Unreal <3

After we got to Chicago, we walked around my sister’s neighborhood. Her and my brother-in-law have a condo/house (yes, they own their very own piece of Chicago) in Lincoln Square. It’s almost as north as you can get in the city without being in the ‘burbs. It’s a very cute neighborhood though; lots of cute shops and restaurants in the area. But the real excitement was going down to Devon Ave. I never get sick of visiting Little India. It was a very tiring day of shopping, but we got everything we needed. Walking up and down that street works up a hunger, so we stopped at Uru-Swati, a vegetarian restaurant on the corner of Rockwell and Devon. Usually we go to Viceroy, but we weren’t really in the buffet mood and wanted to try new things. It had a great mix of north and south Indian food. I got the paper masala dosa, which is a two-foot long Indian-style crepe stuffed with potato curry.

 

Food won.

After dinner, we were beat so we headed back to my sister’s for some much needed drinky-drinks. A lot of them to be exact (o_O;

Day 2 was our fun, tourist-y day in downtown Chicago. We took the train down there and walked around to do some shopping. Then the girls planned a real treat for all of us: an architecture cruise of Chicago! Anyone who knows me and my sister know that we love architecture. It was such a fun ride through the city on the river. I learned a lot more about the city and its designers. Even my sister hadn’t done this tour before so it was a real treat for her as well!

 

Danny came along for the ride too, of course

 

Two of the bridesmaids and also two of my besties!

 

Trump tower = huuuuge!

 

Architecture <3

 

One of the best views of the skyline <3

 

Sister! <3

 

Reflections

After the boat tour, we had some time to kill before dinner, so we walked down to Navy Pier. I’ve been to Navy Pier once and it was just to get some dinner. I need to make sure I come back and really take part in some of the fun.

Bob Newhart won me over. Watch out REB! ;)

 

Pretty city

 

 

Ferris Wheel

We went to dinner at Table 52 on W. Elm. This place was an ultimate treat! It’s owned by Art Smith, who is a very well known chef. He owns two or three other restaurants, was on Top Chef Masters and used to also be Oprah’s personal chef. The coolest thing about the night? We saw him leave the restaurant when we got there! He was getting into his Beamer (his M5 to be exact) before he drove off. I’m so bummed we didn’t get to say hi to him. The food was delicious though. It’s real comfort food. All of us ordered something different. My sister ordered the short rib (they looked like little burgers on top of a bread), my brother-in-law got the catfish, one friend got the southern fried chicken (which I didn’t try of course, but it did not look greasy at all!), the other got the special of the night, the walleye. I got the caramelized garlic risotto. I don’t think I need to explain how delicious it was. It was SO very rich, but so very tasty!

 

Cute decor and ambiance. Felt like we were eating in someone's house!

 

All of us!

After dinner, my brother-in-law went back home since he had to work in the morning, but the four of us girls headed to the John Hancock Center to the 95th floor. The 95th floor has the famed Signature Room and Lounge. We went to the lounge as the Room (the restaurant) was closed by then (it was about 11:30 when we headed out from the restaurant). The best way to end the night was a martini and a breathtaking view of Chicago. The best view of the city from the Lounge is from the girls bathroom. Guys are SOL on this one because they only have a wall in their bathroom. The girls get an entire wall of glass to look at the gorgeous city below.

Gorgeous Chicago from the ladies room! Pardon the reflection/glare!

We were also lucky enough to get a table right next to the window. We were told it was the best table in the bar and I believe it!

 

Thanks for a fun weekend, Chicago! I’ll be back soon! <3 <3

It was pretty much the perfect end to a perfect weekend. It was jam packed and we were so tired by the end of it, but I wouldn’t have changed any part of it. I can’t even begin to thank my sister and friends for such an incredible weekend! It was truly unforgettable!