Tag Archives: photography

What a weekend

Remember when I was so ridiculously busy the month of March and had something going on every single weekend? It seems like May is about to become like that for me! However, I’m more in control of all the things happening this month, which is always better than just having things scheduled for you.

This past weekend flew by and it was so jam-packed busy, at times I felt like I couldn’t breathe! But it was also a super fun weekend!

On Friday I went over to my friend Amber’s house. Her hubby is in Oregon visiting his family, so she was on her own and wanted some company. I told her we should have a slumber party and that’s exactly what we did.

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Things I learned:

  • Centipedes are absolutely disgusting and can be disposed of by: screaming, using a drumstick, continued screaming, a coaster, heavy objects and wishing a man was there to kill it instead.
  • A spider can be scared off by screaming
  • Bugs are gross. Full stop.
  • The Arbazons are quite possibly the most badass band around.
  • Only Geddy Lee can sing like Geddy Lee
  • Only Alanis Morrisette can sing like Alanis Morrisette
  • Rock Band and 2 1/2 bottles of wine produce some ridiculous Vine videos
  • I have some of the best friends I could ever ask for

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On Saturday Amber made me pancakes. No joke. And they were legit pancakes. It was so very needed after the intoxicated night before and was just the thing I needed before a morning of shopping at Nordstrom Rack.

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I’m officially in love with that store. I found the cutest pair of Enzo Angiolini nude pumps to help dress up my look for REB’s grandfather’s 89th birthday shin dig on Sunday!

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I’m always iffy about pumps because I’m not a big heel person. However, these were not only comfortable but they made my usual chicken legs look kind of decent, which had me excited. The party was fun! I always love seeing REB’s family and catching up with everyone.

Other fun this weekend included photographing a high school senior! I was so glad the weather cooperated with us since we did all the photos outside in a park and then in the city. I was able to provide some accessories for the spunky 18-year-old gal, which she rocked completely. I started editing a few pictures over the weekend and seriously can’t wait to share them with all of you!!

All in all it was a super fun weekend and I’m ready for a busy week ahead! Hoping to get a lot of stuff done at work, clean the house, go on a few runs and bike rides, enjoy the sunshine, doing the Color Run this weekend, and spending Mother’s Day with mi madre!

I hope you all have a fantastic week! <3

What was the highlight of your weekend?

 

 

Over the weekend

What a busy weekend I had! Here I thought March would end up being a busy-weekend month for me, but April is proving to be exactly the same.

I welcome it though! A lot happened over the weekend including being able to cross yet another thing on my list.

I ran my first 5K! Finally! A year in the training (and making!) and it’s finally done. I did the Rear Saver 5K on Belle Isle in Detroit – a race to prevent colon cancer. I’m not really big on the cause and whatever, so I mostly just ran it “just because.”. It was a really flat course and on the track of the old race track on Belle Isle. So it was a good first race for me!

My friend Kat and I got there bright and early to pick up our bibs and race packets.

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Then it was time to stretch, warm up and line up for the race! My friend Kat is amazing. Throughout my “training” or weekly runs up until Saturday, I had been doing a 5 minute warm up brisk walk, then running and sometimes stopping to walk, until I reached the 3 mile mark. Yeah, Kat wasn’t letting me off the hook that easily. She said we’re running the whole thing, I couldn’t look at my Garmin at all, and she kept encouraging me, telling me I was kicking ass and doing awesome which kept me going strong!

She was my rock and I couldn’t have had the confidence to run the entire thing without her! She’s training for the half marathon in Pittsburgh in May, so I think she liked having this 5K as a simple run for her to get in over the weekend before her long distance running during the week in training. Either way, Thanks KAT!!

I ended up finishing the race in 38 minutes. Not the best, but I’ll take it. I had told myself that I wanted to finish it in 45 minutes, so seeing that number as I crossed the finish line only boosted my confidence! I had been averaging 40-42 minutes during my weekly runs, and that included the 5 minute warm up walk and cool down walk.

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Maybe it was adrenaline, excitement, or the fact I never gave myself credit, but I was determined to run that entire damn thing and I’m so glad I did! I can’t wait to do another race. I officially have the running bug and want to just continue to improve! I have a goal to increase my distance to 3.25 miles this week and gradually work on increasing speed as well. I’ve set a new goal for myself to try to hit the 5 mile mark by mid-summer. I hope to do this before that, but I know me. I want to give myself time!

So after the race, we made the trek back to Ann Arbor and had a much deserved brunch at Cafe Zola. The rest of the day was spent chillaxing and taking a long nap (I hate getting up early on the weekend!) which got me all revved up for the evening of fun! My brother-in-law’s (REB’s brother) birthday was March 31 and we didn’t get to see him for it then. So we had planned to do a group dinner Saturday night so we could celebrate it.

Saturday night outfit

Saturday night outfit

We met up at an Indian place called Mirchi, which some of my coworkers had been to when they were under different management. It wasn’t bad food! The service is another story, but overall, the food wasn’t horrible. We all ordered Thali plates. Thali is basically a large platter that has small dishes on it with all different kinds of things: curries, yogurt, a dessert, rice, a lentil dish, a soup-ish dish, etc.. It’s really the best way to try a bunch of Indian food and curries (both south and north Indian) when there isn’t a buffet!

mirchi

I barely made a dent int it. So much so that we still have leftovers. It was seriously more food than I ever needed, plus I had eaten the righteous Turkish Brunch at Zola’s earlier in the day. But in my book, having leftover Indian food is a total pile of win.

The night ended with Scary Movie Night at my friend Amber’s house (becoming a tradition) where I got introduced to the amazing Bruce Campbell and Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2. Truly a work a masterful art, lemme tell ya. Groovy, baby.

On Sunday before Sunday Funday and Game of Thrones night, Amber stopped over with one of her dogs and she and I took a long walk through our neighborhood with her dog and Gryff. Then we let them play in our backyard for a little bit.

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I also uploaded a few sneak peek wedding photos on my photo FB page! Here are a few, but the rest you can find here!

All in all, it was a perfect weekend with beautiful sunny weather and fun! I have ended up with a cold, but it was well worth it. I already look forward to the fun this weekend will bring!

What did you do over the weekend?

Shooting my first wedding

I am extremely happy to be able to say I photographed my first wedding over the weekend!

My friend Jackie had booked this gig for us last year when she found out her sister-in-law’s mother was getting remarried. The only info I really had was that we were going to shoot this wedding together, it was a small wedding and it was the second marriage for both. So we knew it was going to be fairly low key. This turned out to be the perfect first job for us!

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I have seriously never had more fun in my life. I could absolutely see myself doing this full time one day down the road. The whole mood of the day was happiness and joy and being able to capture that for this amazing, beautiful couple made me feel so happy and feel so honored! I learned a lot, and hopefully can take some of these lessons or thoughts and use them towards future weddings I may photograph.

In fact, another friend of mine has asked me to assist her in a few of her weddings for 2013 as her second photographer, so I’m really excited to get back to the wedding scene in a few weeks! I am always trying to better myself as a photographer, as this is something I take pretty seriously. I already know I will learn so much from her because she is such a talented photographer in all things.

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So like I said, I did have some takeaways*. Most of these things I already follow or try to follow with any session I do, but weddings are pretty different! I’m sure I’ll be making a mental list of things to always keep in mind when asked to photograph a wedding, but here are some things I wanted to share! :)

  • Have your gear prepped! I can not stress this enough. I always make sure my SD card is cleared before any session I have. I charge both my batteries, get my flash situated, have my camera bag packed with the lenses I need, props in order, tripod, etc. It’s so important to be prepared! I get everything packed, lined up and ready to go the night before.
  • Have a backup! Since this wedding was a two-person job, my backup was my partner in crime. On the off chance something did happen to my camera, I knew she would be able to get the shots I couldn’t! Having a second camera body ready to go, though, definitely doesn’t hurt.
  • BE EARLY. I’m always at least 15 minutes early for any session I have booked, but it’s essential for a wedding! This is their day, their time, their money. You definitely don’t want to be late. If they say “Meet us where we’re getting ready at 5.”, you get there at 4:45 or earlier.
  • Remember you’re a vendor. You aren’t there as a guest. You are a vendor providing a service. Try to wear all black or muted colors so you blend in and don’t stand out. Also make sure you eat! You may be shooting for up to 10 hours in one day and you will be on your feet for the majority of the time. Make sure you dress comfortably with comfortable shoes, and eat something. It’s usually customary that the bride and groom offer you a seat and dinner at their wedding reception.
  • Scope out the area beforehand. This was a bit harder for us, since it was such a low key wedding, but we did get to the city where the wedding was a few hours in advance so we scoped out the area then. If at all possible, make sure to check out the wedding venue (if it’s unfamiliar to you), reception area, possible photographing areas outside or down the road, a week or two in advance. It also helps to figure out the route and time to get to said location so you have an idea on that.
  • Communicate. This seems like a no brainer, but it’s so important to communicate with the bride and groom. Make sure you have discussed their wants and needs or what their expectations are beforehand, if possible. It helps keeps flow during the day and also ensures they get the photos they absolutely must have. Keep open communication with the planner or who ever is in charge of making sure the night has good flow. You’ll want to know when the reception begins, when the first dance is, when the cake cutting is, etc. so you don’t miss any moment of it!
  • Be in control. Yes, this is a wedding so it’s going to be somewhat chaotic at times, but you have to keep things rolling. We literally only had 40-45 minutes for photos between the time after the ceremony and the reception starting. So we had to keep things moving and ensure all the photos they wanted to have taken, were done. Family members were prepared to stand in and what not. The bride later thanked us for being in control since she found herself easily distracted by saying hi and hugging friends who would linger back after the ceremony.
  • Don’t forget candids. This seems like a simple enough thing, but some of the most fun pictures I snapped were the ones of people talking during the reception, the bride dancing with her grand daughter, the bride and groom sneaking a kiss here and there, or people taking photos of other people with their smart phones. It definitely helped having a zoom lens where I could stand in the back of a room to be able to capture said moments.
  • Have fun. Easier said than done, but if you’re at all stressed or worried, it will show in the pictures. Remain calm, have fun, keep things light!

I already know some things I want to definitely make sure of with future weddings. I also hope to have a bit more gear before the next one too. While I had rented a pretty awesome lens for the weekend, I definitely know which ones I want to add to my camera bag permanently so I’m starting to save up for those! I hope to get another camera body too.

The bottom line is I had so much fun. I can’t wait to share some of the photos. It will definitely take me a while to get through all these and then edit them, but that’s half the fun. Stay tuned!

*I’m not a professional wedding photographer (…yet ;)…), so these opinions and thoughts are my own! You will undoubtedly have your own routine, procedure or way of handling your photo sessions!

Birthday Weekend Part One

 

Hello friends!

I hope everyone has been doing well. I feel like I don’t give enough love to the bloggy, but things are just so busy! [broken record]

Regardless, I think October is officially the busiest month we ever have because there are so many birthdays to celebrate!! So for two weeks out of the month, every year, we celebrate birthdays of those near and dear to us.

Last weekend was my dad’s birthday and REB’s birthday and mine is coming up this weekend!

On Saturday October 6 (my dad’s birthday), my parents came down so we could treat my dad to some delicious Ethiopian food at Blue Nile in downtown Ann Arbor.

For those of you who follow me on Instagram or Twitter, I’m sure you’ve seen the food I take pictures of there. We always get the Vegetarian Feast, which is unlimited portioned out veggie curries, plus all you can eat of the delicious Injera bread. My parents really enjoyed it and I think they also had a fun time at the restaurant trying Ethiopian food for the first time! The great thing is that it’s so similar to Indian food since they share a lot of the same spices and cooking methods. My mom, being some what of a picky eater, found this to be very much to her liking. Another great part to the weekend was being able to see my aunt, who was visiting my parents for a few weeks! The last time I saw her was at my wedding a year ago.

The night ended with looking at photos of their adventures showing my aunt around the mitten! I’m so glad she had a nice visit and was able to see just how beautiful parts of Michigan are.

So on Sunday I took a break from birthday celebrations so I could play photographer to my friends Amber and Richard. They are quite the gorgeous couple and it was so much fun finding new locations for photos and also letting them be celebrities for a day! They have really become two of REB and my closest, nicest friends here in A2 and we’re grateful to have friends like this close to home.

No lie, I am really proud of these photos! Some of you may know that I’m trying to start up a photography business on the side of the every day 9-to-5. My web site, Aparna Photography, is still a work in progress, but I seriously can’t wait to showcase these photos and the senior photos I did for a friend’s niece last month, on the site! It’s also really nice having friends who are open to your ideas for photos, and having them be creative and coming up with their own! Thanks Amber and Richard! I’ll gladly photograph you two any time you want :)

Oh and if you want to see all the photos, check them out here on my photo Facebook page!

When I was done playing photographer, I went home, started editing, but took a break to prepare REB’s birthday breakfast! His birthday is October 8, and my office was closed for Columbus Day. He also took the day off because we wanted to spend the day together but also do my birthday present to me that he got me (more on that in a second..).

I made baked French toast for his birthday breakfast and prepped everything the night before so the batter could sit overnight with the bread.

I followed the basic recipe on Annie Eats web site, but only changed two things: I used half a loaf of Challah instead of a French baguette, and I used skim milk instead of half-and-half. I don’t know if these changes made a big difference, because it tasted pretty good to us! :)

So once we were done with breakfast and cleaned the kitchen, we headed out for my birthday present. My birthday isn’t until this weekend, October 13 (dyscalculia Halloween!), but apparently what he had in store for me could only be done on week days.

Best surprise ever!! I’ve been wanting to go horseback riding for the longest time and even though about putting it on my 31 before 30 list, but decided not to. I should have, because then I could have crossed it off. Either way, this was a really fun day at a privately owned stable and horse training area about 40 min from our house.

The ladies who teach lessons and take care of the horses were so nice! We got a one hour private lesson where we learned how to brush a horse (there are four three different kinds of brushes!), how to properly get hold of a horses leg so you can clean out the hooves (they are HEAVY) and also how to properly bridle and saddle a horse before getting on. They also taught us how to steer on the horse, give commands, and how to achieve trust between you and horse. The hour flew by! The horses were two of the sweetest creatures I’ve ever been around. They’re a little intimidating since they’re so big, but they were so gentle and kept wanting peppermints. REB actually took lessons when he was a kid. Although he hasn’t ridden in like 18 years, it all came back to him when got up there.

So there we have it! Our birthday weekend part one. Stay tuned for part two where we celebrate my birthday this coming weekend. REB and I are five days apart and celebrating birthdays are always a fun time. This weekend I’ll be seeing some family, and then seeing friends at night for a fun dinner out on the town!

What are some of your favorite birthday celebrations?

Oliver One Year

 

A year ago Michigan experienced what we all called Snowmageddon. It was the worst storm we had all year and people were furiously scrambling to clean out grocery stores in case they would be stranded in their homes. A little extreme if you ask me. It was a bad storm, but we live in Michigan! Anyway during that ridiculous snow storm my friends had their son, Oliver Robert, and I took photos of him when he was a newborn. It was my very first newborn shoot and I remember I was incredibly nervous!

Hard to believe that it’s been a year and now Oliver is going to be one! His awesome parents asked me to do his one year pictures, which of course I agreed to do. This type of session was different than most, though. While I had all these props and ideas for poses, Oliver wanted nothing to do with it.

For the first time since starting this little photography venture, I got to do a photo shoot where I just took pictures of the family around their home. There were some posed pictures, but not many since Oliver wasn’t too thrilled with having to sit still ;) It was different, but it was also really fun!

Here’s a peek at some of the photos!

And just for fun:

I even managed to get a photo of mom and dad :)

Thanks to the K family for letting me take pictures of Ollie Bear! Can’t wait to help make more memories for your family!

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

One Day in Venice

After we left the delightful city of Paris (and I promise I’ll include photos of the actual city, soon!) we jetted off to Venice. Literally.

We landed into Marco Polo around 9 p.m., and had to take a bus to the island of Venice. Then from there, we had to take a water bus to the stop by our hotel.

We were pretty loopy since it wasn’t the longest flight, but it felt like a long day. The airport is actually located on the main land and if you’re going to the island of Venice, you need to take water buses around once there. You can take a water taxi but we found out those are €90! Much too much money if you ask me. It would be a private ride, but that’s just too much. So, we took a water bus…which was an adventure figuring out where they line up and which one we needed to take. Since we got there so late, a lot of the buses we thought we had to take weren’t running anymore and no one seemed polite enough to help us out :\

We were staying in Canareggio area aka the Jewish Ghetto. It’s one of the older parts of the city and it’s also in the eye of the city. In case you never noticed, the island of Venice is shaped like a fish (now that I know this, this is all I see LOL) and we were staying near the eye. It’s also the area closest to the terminal that takes you to the main land.

After we got to the San Marcuola stop, we had to figure out how to get to the hotel. When nightfall comes, there are no lights in Venice. What we learned the next day from our guide, is that it’s up to the owners of the building if they want to have a lamp post or light outside their building. Apparently a lot of people opt out of this, making it very hard to read street signs and/or maps ;) We finally made it to our hotel and realized we were starving! Once again we hadn’t eaten for a few hours and needed some sustenance, no matter the hour. So we walked down our little street and found the first restaurant that was still open and decided to sit in. Lucky for us, we found a restaurant with two hilarious waiters who kept things fun and telling jokes.

REB and I were really excited to eat, too. We knew we were going to have pizza, which is a big deal. Neither one of us is Catholic, but we always give up something during Lent just to see if we can give up something we love to eat or drink or whatever. And one of our favorite things to eat is pizza. So, we gave up pizza. And then we were in full-fledged health mode before the wedding, so we made a deal that until we got to Italy, we wouldn’t eat any pizza.

So in case you missed that, we hadn’t had pizza for 6 months before we got to Italy.

We. Were. STOKED.

Vegetarian pizza

So yes, I got the vegetarian pizza. REB got the cheese pizza. And they were both so freaking delicious. Now that we’ve been to Rome as well, I can honestly say that I prefer Venetian pizza over Roman or Napoli. Roman pizza is far too thin and all the toppings just sort of slide off, which is unfortunate. Napoli pizza is slightly thicker, but again, the sauce is so watery that the toppings are kind of swimming in it and they just fall off. But Venetian-style pizza was a thin crust, that was firm, topped well, seasoned well and baked to perfection.

The next day, REB had gotten me a real treat. As an early birthday present to me, he arranged for us to have a private walking photography tour with a professional, around the city of Venice! It was unbelievable! The tour was super early that day; from 8-10:30 a.m. Normally I hate getting up early on vacation, but I was actually very excited. Most people know that the best times to take photos is really early in the morning or around sunset when the light is best.

Venetian sunrise <3

We were almost late meeting her at San Marco’s Square, but we made it just in time. We also realized that no one else had signed up for the tour so it was just us and her. So perfect.

I will say this here and now: Venice in the early hours is so beautiful. It’s so quiet, peaceful and not crowded. I’ll be honest, we weren’t the biggest fans of the city once everyone came to the island. It seemed like an amusement park to us. No one lives on the island and at 10:30 or so, it just becomes this ridiculous, crowded mess of people. Every two feet is a souvenir shop, people trying to sell you something, waiting in lines to get into stores, see the bridge, whatever. It just wasn’t our cup of tea. And then promptly at 8 p.m., everyone leaves the island and it becomes totally dead. But in those early hours when the city is starting to wake up, it’s absolutely gorgeous.

Eve, our photographer tour guide, was an amazing guide. She showed us these cute little streets, alleys, waterways, and houses that we wouldn’t have found on our own.

She also taught both of us how to take pictures at different angles, which I realized I don’t do nearly enough! She also showed us her favorite spots in the city where she likes to take photographs.

Like this bridge solely to look at the water for the reflection:

Or this water street for the bridge, colors and perspective:

REB held onto my shirt so I wouldn't fall into the water. Luckily there was a wall to help lean my camera

There’s no denying the entire city is filled with charm, beauty and old-world style.

So quiet in the morning

We learned some neat little facts about the city from Eve as well. Like how an area we were in was the red light district called “Casi no” or as you and I know it…casino. It literally translates to “bad house” or whatever. It basically meant that gambling, prostitution and other saucy things were taking place in certain buildings. And the way you knew if a house was bad was if there were wooden shutters on it. That was usually a good indication that prostitutes might be hanging out up there calling down to the boatmen.

casi no

Other things she taught was about the wells that were situated in areas around the city. The wells were the way people got water back to their house.

Or if you were rich enough, you had a courtyard in your home and a well of your own. Only a few of these houses still exist in the city today.

I love the light in this photo. So warm :)

So the tour lasted 2 1/2 hours but it felt like it flew on by! She showed us some fantastic parts of the city and even suggested some things for us to do on our own for the rest of the day. Anyway, we couldn’t navigate the narrow streets of Venice the way she did, but we did finally find the Rialto bridge and then….we saw this….:

I’ve never seen such a beautiful view! I had heard stories of the Grand Canal being pretty cool, but when you seen it in person it’s just as busy as the photo shows. But again, it’s only like this once the city wakes up. I kind of wish I could have seen it in the wee hours of the morning. But either way, it was just magnificent!

Walking around the city really worked up our hunger. We didn’t eat breakfast since we had to get to the Square so early for the tour. The best solution? Pasta!

I got the pomodoro and basil, and REB got the pesto. Both were pretty delicious

I don’t know how it happened but this place was actually a little past our hotel. We somehow got from the Rialto Bridge back to Canareggio. Lucky for us, we were in an area that Eve actually suggested for us to see that isn’t a big attraction. She told us that one of the oldest bridges in Venice was in this district. And we found it!

So searching around the city of Venice works up an appetite for an afternoon snack. What better snack in Italy than gelato!

I got the pistachio on the left there and REB got the mint chocolate chip.

Our journey continued and we decided to visit the three islands by Venice: Murano (where they do the hand blown glass), Burano (Italian lace!) and Torcello (…I’m actually not sure what it’s known for, but it’s old and pretty haha).

En route to Burano

So while we were in Burano, we actually didn’t stand around to see the lace demo. We wanted to take advantage of the 30 minutes we had on the island, so we walked around.

We may or may not have had gelato within a 3 hour span.

Coffee flavored nomz!

….but we did ;)

Torcello was a beautiful island. Really old, small and had this beautiful church on it. I think that might be what the island is known for, but I honestly can’t remember…

I looove those beams!

 

Pretty shadows <3

We also saw something I had never seen before in person: a pomegranate tree!

Hard not to pick one but I think the homeowners would have been mad...

So when we got back to Venice, it was about 6 or 7 p.m. and we were hungry again. Walking can do that to a person, I guess ;) Being a vegetarian in Italy isn’t so bad. You get to eat a lot of pasta, pizza, cheese and ice cream. However, I’m sure that can get pretty old and unhealthy. We totally indulged while we were there though! We walked along the Grand Canal to find some good restaurants and just decided to sit at one of them. REB got pizza and I had pasta (again).

Not as good as the one we had the night we got there :"

 

Arrabiata

When we were done with dinner, we had remembered something Eve had told us in the morning. The area where we were staying was apparently the Venetian nightlife hotspot. So that was exciting for us. We were ready to have a drink and just wind down before we had to get up early for our train ride to Rome. So we walked past our hotel and into the street she told us about.

The nightlife of Venice? It’s really just four bars lined up next to each other and they’re open until 10 p.m. while the rest of the city closes down at 8 p.m. as mentioned earlier. So anyway, we found this cute little bar and had a drink.

Bellini and white wine

So yeah…nightlife? Here’s the nightlife.

There it is. So the city might not be open super late and no one might live on the actual island itself, but we did have a nice time. I’m glad we were only there a day. I don’t know what we would have done if we were there for more than 2 days. Maybe go to Florence for a day (next time!) or something.

We did have a lovely time in Venice, but we were ready to keep heading south and spend the last part of our honeymoon in historic Rome. But the beauty we saw in Venice will remain with us forever. That’s for certain <3

European Eats – Paris

Like you even have to ask if I’m going to write an entry about the food we ate on our trip. I’d be a fool if I didn’t take pictures of the delicious foods we ate and then talk about it with all you lovelies!

Now, please bear with me. This will be a longer post, but I assure you it will be worth it! Well, maybe it won’t to you, but it is to me – haha – and I hope you stick around to hear about our adventures of eating! :) We’ll start with Paris since that was our first stop. Then we’ll move onto Italy.

For those of you who don’t know where we went, we spent two glorious weeks in Europe: Paris, Venice and Rome to be exact. We had a hard time choosing where we would go. REB mentioned his interest in wanting to see Paris at least once in his life and even though I’ve been there before, I haven’t been there with him, so we picked Paris. I told him that I spent a night in Milan and fell in love with northern Italy (Lake Como, Milan, the Alps, etc.) so I would love to go back there, so we decided on Venice since I haven’t been there before. Then we picked Rome because…well, why not? Haha. So that was our trip!

So our first stop was Paris and we spent about 5 days there. That may not seem like a lot of time, but it actually worked out perfectly. We knew what we were going to do there ahead of time and we had enough time to do it all and also just sit around and relax.

We stayed in the 7th District on the Rue Cler and oh. my. god. I fell completely in love with that area. We were about a 15 minute walk to the Champs de Mar and the Eiffel Tower and we were staying on the cutest street filled with cafes, cheese and bread shops, markets every morning. It was just so lively! After we checked in and dropped our bags, we walked across the street to the Cafe Central. This cafe ended up being our local spot where we’d get Cafe Garamonds, cappuccinos, lunch, wine, etc. And it was ALWAYS open. Anyway, we were starving after our long flight – our flight that didn’t take note that we asked for vegetarian meals and we never got them :\ We just ate the snacks we bought (candy and chips basically) so we were starving. The one thing I needed right away? Breakfast, even though it was about 1 or 2 p.m. by the time we reached our hotel. Lucky for me, the French eat bread for breakfast and things like salads and eggs for lunch ;)

Omelet with tomatoes

It was cooked to perfection: fluffy, flavorful and filling!

Now something we both totally support about the French lifestyle is snacking throughout the day. And REB’s favorite snack was eating crepes of course! There were creperies every where and I was actually surprised to know the most common filling was Nutella. Either way, we had our fair share of crepes every day.

Hard to see, but the left three photos show the dude making the crepe. So good!

They were so delicious and the perfect snack to eat while walking around.  They were also ridiculously HOT. But I suppose that’s a good thing. The Nutella was just melted right in and got every where, but it was worth it. Simple, light and delicious. This was probably REB’s favorite snack while we walked around.

My favorite snack? Cafe Garamonds. It’s basically a plate with three little desserts (usually mini creme brulee, pudding, a mini cake, macaron or eclair) and then it also comes with a little cup of espresso. I absolutely loved it.

Cafe Garamond at Cafe Central <3

 

Cafe Garamond at a cafe on the Champs Elysees

Another sweet treat we grew to love were macarons! And there were shops for them all over! They’re becoming quite the trend here in America and I can totally understand why!

Our favorite flavors were: pistachio, lavender, espresso, lemon and sea salt caramel!

 

Michigan State macarons ;) Go green!! <3

 

REB’s coworker actually stayed on Rue Cler when he visited Paris before and told us about this great little chocolate shop near our hotel. It’s the Jeff De Bruges chocolate shop. Founded by Phillipe Jambon, this brand of chocolate is ridiculously tasty. So we made sure to get a little cellophane bag filled with different kinds of chocolates.

Totally worth it!

Speaking of famous, there was another famous brand we made sure to go see. I record Barefoot Contessa regularly on the DVR because I love Ina Garten’s recipes and I love hearing about her adventures in Paris. She actually owns a little apartment in the 7th district off Ave. Rennes. One of the things she’s talked about in several of her French-related episodes, is the Poilâne boulangerie. It’s a pretty well known bakery in Paris known for their breads with the signature “P” on their loaves.

We found it!

 

Just beautiful

 

Let's eat!

We learned quickly that eating bread and/or pastries and drinking espresso is the typical breakfast for many French. Or eating baguettes on the go from a street cart. This is a tradition I can get on board with ;)

And yes, we ate the whole thing. We are not ashamed.

 

Beignets filled with chocolate!

 

Chocolate eclair filled with chocolate

and of course….

A cappuccino to wash it all down! (my preference over espresso lol)

I wrote a post a few days ago about the goat cheese salad we had in Paris and we tried recreating it at home. Well, now you can see the pictures of this amazing salad from Cafe Bosquet. We went there twice. We found the cafe since it was near our hotel and the first time we went, REB got the goat cheese salad while I got the provencal veggie dish. But I ended up grabbing more bites off REB’s dish than eating mine. There’s a reason why. This goat cheese salad, or salad chevre chaud, was one of the best things we ate in that entire city. And the way this cafe prepared it was just delicious!

Ok first you need to see the dishes we got the first time we went. So I had the Vegeables Provecal and in the back there is that gorgeous goat cheese salad that REB ordered.

So our last day in Paris, we went back to Cafe Bosquet for lunch and I ordered the goat cheese salad.

Yuuuuum

 

Here's a better look at it. Doesn't it look super tasty?! It was too. I still have dreams about this salad. I also know now what we need to do the next time we make it so it can be like this!

So while I enjoyed this salad, REB ordered a croque monsieur. Now, this dish is traditionally made with ham and cheese. However, our awesome server picked up on the fact we were vegetarians and instead of just omitting the ham and leaving it as a cheese sandwich, they put tomato in it. So cool!

Note to self: Order this next time!

As vegetarians, it’s actually pretty hard to eat in France. In a country known for its beef, hams and duck con fit, it was really hard to find something to eat on the menu aside from eggs, goat cheese salads or pasta. So we took it upon ourselves to see if we could find any vegetarian restaurants in the city.

We were able to find one that was vegetarian and also had a handful of dishes that were vegan, so we decided to check it out. It’s called Le Grenier de Notre Dame located in the Latin Quarter. It was a tiny restaurant on a side street off the main avenue.

 

We definitely took advantage of the outdoor seating

REB ordered this delicious chocolate pistachio milkshake. It seemed like an odd combination, but it was actually pretty refreshing and tasty!

Their menu was interesting. It actually had a lot of Asian and Indian flavors tied into a lot of the dishes. So for an appetizer, we ordered the spicy goat cheese, which came with vegetables and raita. It was a pretty good dish since it was served warm and the yogurt was nice and cool!

For our entree, REB and I split the casoulet. I’ll be honest. It was just OK. It was filled with lots of beans, tomatoes and other vegetables, but it wasn’t very flavorful. It could have used some kind of spice, herb or even just salt! But, it was filled with protein, and it was filling, so I guess that was good.

So there you have it! Our adventures in Parisian eating! It wasn’t super unique food or anything, but we had our share of foods we don’t normally eat. I hope you all enjoyed and maybe if you ever go to Paris, you’ll use these tips and/or restaurant recommendations and check them out for yourself!

And if not, then pull up a chair and have a glass of wine with us.