ROME – PANTHEON & TREVI FOUNTAIN

Rome – Pantheon & Trevi Fountain

One aspect I loved about Rome was how we could see so many historic sites and plazas from just walking from one attraction to the next. Many historical sites were free of charge to visit and part of experiencing the city was wandering through the heart of it. After our morning at the Colosseum and a quick bite, Stephen and I set off for The Pantheon. Along the way, we stopped by shops, took lots of photos on cobblestoned streets and of course, ate a lot more gelato.

This was one of our afternoons where we had no set plans, just a list of landmarks we wanted to see in a geographical area and time to explore.

Tip: This area of Rome was super walkable and filled with shops, cafes and gelato! Washrooms however, were hard to find. Most cafes only allow customers to use the in-store facilities so gelato breaks were much welcomed.

Entrance to The Pantheon was free of charge and open to visitors from 9am to 5:30pm Monday to Saturday, closing earlier on Sundays. Street performers entertained crowds in the square just outside and there were a few horse drawn cart vendors. Like in any crowded tourist area, I would recommend carrying backups at the front and making sure any valuables are stored in zippered inside pockets.

Tip: If you’re using Google maps, scenic sites are marked with a camera icon. Stephen and I stopped by a few on our walk (like the Fontana delle Tartarughe and Palazzo Cipolla) and really enjoyed each one.

Our next stop was the Trevi Fountain, which was beautiful and definitely worth a stop. Even with the large crowd of tourists we were able to enjoy the view, throw in a coin and get close enough to feel the fountain splash. There was room around the fountain to sit and enjoy an afternoon snack. From here we headed towards the Spanish Steps (with a few shopping stops along the way). Unfortunately, the steps were under renovation and mostly fenced off.

Tip: The area near the Spanish steps is known for a plethora of high end designer boutiques, similar to Bloor St. and 5th Ave. We popped into Prada to browse and Salvatore Ferragamo for some more serious shoe shopping.

The afternoon of walking was the perfect way to work up an appetite for dinner (even with two gelato stops).

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Rome – Pantheon & Trevi Fountain

VACATION REFRESH

Vacation Refresh

At the beginning of September, Stephen and I took some time off for a quick vacation in the US to visit family and friends. The 10 day trip took us to St. Paul in Minneapolis and across the country to Seattle. We were super excited to attend the Minnesota State Fair again and indulge in some deep fried cheese curds (which Stephen has been dreaming about for the past 2 years) and deep fried pickles. I was also looking forward to visiting Seattle for the first time and catching up with friends who had moved there recently.

Usually before a trip, I try to queue up 1 blog post per week while I’m gone and often for the week after I’m back while I get back into routine. Before our last vacation I was consistently posting 2-3 posts a week. Lately though, I’ve been struggling to juggle the priorities of spending time with family, my day job, sleep, and giving myself enough down time to recharge.

Writing blog posts had always been an activity I loved and it kept me busy during the week while Stephen traveled for work. I prided myself in my consistent content quality and quantity, often sacrificing sleep during the week to write. Stephen stopped travelling in May and I quickly found my schedule changing. After a day at work, I much preferred spending my evening watching TV with him and getting to bed at a reasonable hour, instead of blogging late into the night.

I struggled with finding the motivation I used to have for blogging and beat myself up for slacking at creating content. My hobby started to feel like a relationship I no longer wanted to be in. It took my energy and time only to give back a lot of guilt.

It wasn’t until August that I became okay with bringing my post frequency down to once a week, halving my commitment and reducing my stress 100%. I wasn’t tied anymore to ridiculous deadlines I gave myself, I didn’t feel pressured anymore to constantly churn out word count. Writing became easier again.

I also learned to value my time more. I didn’t have to blog about every single event, restaurant or experience, only those that I wanted to share and remember. Writing became enjoyable again.

So before this vacation, I didn’t worry about building up a backlog of posts. Now that I’m back, the gap in my post history doesn’t bother me either, at one point this would’ve been unheard of. The time away actually was refreshing and now I itch to blog again, a feeling I haven’t felt in awhile.

Today, I’m not sure if I’ll ever get back to posting as often as I used to, but I’m hoping the posts that do make it will be worthwhile to read.

MOXIE’S HARD LEMONADE

Moxie’s Hard Lemonade

It may not feel like it, but we are officially one week into summer. Although the weather in Toronto has been fickle, after months of winter and a long cold spring I’m ready to enjoy as much of the city as I can, rain or shine. Stephen and I dropped by this year’s Wine & Spirit Festival at Sugar Beach to check out Moxie’s Grill & Bar‘s Lemonade Pop-up Patio!

This summer, Moxie’s is bringing the patio to you and serving up glasses of their house-made Hard Lemonade at events all over the GTA. I had the chance to taste the drink myself at the Wine & Spirit Festival. Each refreshing glass was made with fresh, hand squeezed lemon juice, a splash of soda water for the bubbles and a shot of vodka for the fun.

The bright yellow pop-up patio was a full setup that included two bars and a live DJ. I also loved the two jumbo tower stacking games, which brought out our competitiveness with strangers and crashed spectacularly. Two areas were set up with patio furniture where we lounged and sipped on our lemonades under the sun umbrella. This was key as the sunny evening quickly turned dark with rain pouring down. Despite the rain, the staff of Moxie’s kept the party going, moving the DJ to under the awning of the patio and making sure everyone’s cups were full.

Moxie’s Lemonade Pop-Up Patio will be at the Port credit Yacht Club next on June 24th as a part of the Toronto Area Hospice Regatta from 2pm to 6pm. Next, they’ll be at the GWN sports Regatta at Marylin Bell Park on July 15th from 11am to 6pm.

Be sure to check them out and #SqueezeSummerHard.

To share a taste of summer with my followers, I’ve partnered with Moxie’s Grill & Bar to giveaway a $150 gift card to one lucky winner, valid at any location in the country! Head over to my Instagram account and enter now! Contest ends July 4th, 2017.

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Moxie’s Canada. In exchange for this post, I have received perks in the form of products and/or compensation. All opinions on this blog are my own.

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PARIS – DAY 1 (EIFFEL TOWER)

Paris – Day 1 (Eiffel Tower)

Last year, Stephen and I went to Europe together for the first time. Both of us had been to the continent before with friends, but never with each other. We debated between Italy and Spain. When a flight deal popped up for Italy via Paris and back through Amsterdam, our destination was decided for us. Our itinerary began with a few days in Paris, followed by 2 weeks through Italy and then 2 nights in Amsterdam. This was my third time in Paris and Stephen’s first. I planned for us to hit all the classic tourist spots, just the one museum, and plenty of tasty stops in between.

During our time in Paris we stayed at the W, which was centrally located, right across from The Opera House and a 5 minute walk to the Galeries Lafayette (department store similar to Saks). We dropped off our bags and immediately began walking towards the Jardin des Tuileries and more importantly Angelina cafe. I picked up one of their famous mont-blancs to go while Stephen got a croissant and espresso. With snacks in hand, we began our 2.5km stroll along one of the most well-known streets in the world towards the Arc De Triomphe. Walking below the Arc De Triomphe is one of my favourite sights in the city. I would also recommend climbing the 284 stairs to the top and taking in the stunning 360° view.

By this point we were ready for lunch and a nap. Hopping on the super affordable Paris subway, we headed back to our hotel. We got off at La Fayette station to grab lunch at the Food Hall and a box of Pierre Hermé macarons, my favourite in the entire world.

Our plan was to get to the Eiffel Tower to watch the sunset. The best spot to take in the Eiffel Tower is definitely across the Lena Bridge at the Jardins du Trocadero. We spent a solid hour taking photos at the garden and then slowly making our way to the base of the Eiffel Tower. With the blue sky and cotton candy clouds, every moment was breathtaking as the light changed. Once the sun fully set, we hung around Champ de Mars to watch the twinkling light display.

When we visited, the temperature was quite chilly. During warmer weather, I’d recommend taking a night cruise on The Seine, starting at the Eiffel Tower as a great way to end the day.

Stephen and I ended our night with a Nutella Crepe from the food stall by the Carousel. We ate many more crepes while in Paris, but this was by far the best one.

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