After Bellagio, we trekked through the countryside and found ourselves on a boat to Venice! Touristy- maybe, but we were so excited to explore a great historical city and play tourist.
Exploring began right away, and just as we suspected.. in Venice, they have you there-- STUCK! So everything is overpriced. We ignored it, and ponied up the ridiculous dough for every little thing. We took a tour of the Doge's Palace, went to the top of the Belltower to take in the best view of the city, hopped on a gondola, ate TONS, perused the shops and much more!
Shopping in Venice was great fun. They had all the standards, and tons of charming little gift shops where I stocked up on postcards, snowglobes, and magnets to send home.
Again with the yummy gelato. I never held back. If my baby wanted gelato, I was having it!
The bread and chocolate shops were my favorite of course.
Being in Venice with my sweet husband was absolutely magical. A real vacation! We've had a crazy life ever since we got married.. going non-stop. We had our wedding, drove across country, moved into a new house, he started business school, I started a new job, visited family, got pregnant, and on and on. Taking a trip together to unwind before the baby was such a great idea, and I'm so glad we had the opportunity. It was just what we needed.
My sweet husband worked so hard to plan the whole thing so I could spend the time relaxing.. and it all came together perfectly. He's got a knack for planning and detailing.
I'm still high off the whole adventure and I can't wait to do it again. Next time, we'll have our little man in tow. I did manage to pick up a little striped Gondola tee for him. Just like his Mama, he's gonna wear stripes way too often.
This hot chocolate was so thick and chocolatey, it was like a melted chocolate bar. It might have been too much for me actually. It was that intense!
Some naked lady art for Preacher!
Albin sampling the Italian wine selection..
Aaah Venezia! See you again!
After Greece, we landed in Milan, picked up our rental FIAT, and hit the road. Albin being the well organized type that he is, had all the maps and hotel information printed out and ready for us to begin. One thing about Italy and Googlemaps, they don't seem to match too well. He was the driver, I was the co-pilot, map in hand. I tried to follow the directions as precisely as I could, but between the roundabouts, lack of street signs, and the maps being dead wrong, we got lost a few times. We had to ask for directions more than once on our way to the hotel in Milan, and most the people we spoke with spoke very little English, so needless to say, arriving at our hotel for the night was a happy moment.
We stepped out into the chilly Milan night to grab a bite to eat at an authentic (non-English speaking) pizzeria. The pizza was fantastic and it finally hit me that we were on full vacation mode. I became incredibly relaxed. Even Albin remarked that he couldn't remember the last time he saw me so at ease. Awesome!
We had a restful evening, and set out for the town of Bellagio on Lake Como.
After driving a little over an hour outside Milan, we found ourselves on narrow, winding roads that ran alongside the clearest lake I'd ever laid eyes on. The snow-capped Swiss alps were the perfect background to this crystal clear day on the lake.
Our hotel was at the top of the mountain, overlooking the lake and town of Bellagio, which is more quaint than I can even put into words. When I say perfect, I mean not an ounce of trash, or smog. The air was so clean it almost hurt to breathe. A drastic contrast to the sooty streets of New Orleans and L.A.
When you think perfectly, picturesque European mountain town, this has to be it. I didn't know much about Lake Como and Bellagio. I knew George Clooney and Madonna keep homes there, I knew it has long been a playground for the European elite, but I just had no idea how beautiful it could be. Apparently the Bellagio Las Vegas is themed after this town, and I can see why. As much as I love their musical fountain show and high end shopping, it really pales in comparison. Move over Tahoe, a new lake has captured my heart.
After checking in, we spent our time strolling through a little fishing village and into Bellagio, which is filled with adorable (pricy) shops, yummy eateries, gelaterias, cheese stores (heart thumping), cobblestone streets, and glorious views.
Storybook is the only way I can describe it. I hope to take our boy there one day. This is the kind of place you want to spend the entire summer.
This was the view from our hotel room balcony. What a dream!
The weather had cleared up in time for our arrival and we could hear water flowing from our hotel room... Turns out, the snow was melting from the hills above, sending the most beautiful waterfall and stream right by us. We went out in search of it.. and this is what we found..
For a perfect evening, we picked up some snacks from a local grocery and enjoyed our spread at the water's edge to watch the sunset. An old church in the background had the bells ringing and there wasn't a soul around.
The owner of our hotel made sure we felt right at home, and his very own mother was there to greet us in the morning. She set up the entire breakfast room with warm croissants, nutella, fresh breads, fruit, cereal, and coffee. They were amazing hosts.
Our entire Italian road trip was pure magic.. so it's hard to choose a favorite. But this little place was especially lovely, and we are already talking about the next time we return.
We've just returned from our trip, and I am so excited to share the experience with everyone. I took over 800 photos and I plan on splitting up the highlights into seperate posts for each chapter of the trip. WARNING: These posts are picture heavy!
First stop on the list.. Athens! To begin with, I guess I should clarify that the only thing "big and fat" about this trip was my belly. This baby boy is growing by the minute. After my long overseas journey and layover in Rome, I arrived to find my bag did not make it... it was stuck in Rome. Naturally! But other than that rough start, seeing Albin after our week long hiatus was just wonderful! I missed that little cutie. He was waiting for me at the airport, bright eyed and bushy tailed as always.
We were on a limited time frame, so we got down to exploring right away..
Athens is a GORGEOUS city, so rich in history and culture, and the weather couldn't have been better. I was expecting cool scarf temperatures, and I arrived to balmy t shirt weather. Delightful.
As I've mentioned before, Albin had already been in Athens with his business school group a week before my arrival, so he had the town figured out. The whole group was staying at the darling St. George Lycabettus
Hotel, that has the most breathtaking views of the city and Acropolis. The view at night was loveliest of all, the lighting was just magical.
Albin of course had a little eatery he was already frequenting, and had our routes and activities planned.
We ate, shopped, and hiked to the Acropolis to take in the breathtaking city views and behold the glory of the
This city is so full of life and color.. I thought this man might blow away!
Every street was a winding, whimsical place of adventure.. we walked through residential and shop-lined streets, taking in every bit.
I started each and every morning with warm and flaky croissants on our balcony. Also, note the bucket of ice... pregnancy has me loving ice cold EVERYTHING more than ever, and coming across ice was the most challenging part of our trip. They don't believe in it in Europe, I swear!
Here I am, hiking up the Acropolis. Pardon the way I look, I'm not quite the hiker I was pre-pregnancy. I get way more winded now.
Awe-inspiring, incredible. The history is overwhelming to see in person.
Luckily, a friend joined us on the adventure, and we were able to snap a couple photos of the two of us.
The city views from atop the mountain are STUNNING!
After our adventure, we wandered the streets, and stopped at a local eatery to feed our starving tummies.
Sunset from our balcony could not be missed. (And hooray, my suitcase finally arrived.. just 2 days late.)
We followed up our sunset with an evening walk and a creme brulee at a local spot. This whole trip was pure enjoying. One of life's simplest pleasures is cracking the shell of a perfect creme brulee. We enjoyed it to the last drop.
The best and only way for us to finish off Greece was with a walk through the market. We browsed souvenir shops, outdoor nurseries, and ended up popping into a chocolate store to stock up on treats for the plane.
See you next time Athens! Next stop.. Milan!