Posts Tagged ‘Personal’

part two of three


Istanbul  •  Part I


Lake Como was worth the detour. We did a tour from Milan and spent the day in the town of Como & Bellagio. As a Las Vegan, I can see where our Bellagio hotel drew inspiration from this quaint Lombardy town. I’ll have you know that the real town is so much better than the desert version! On our ferry ride from Como to Bellagio, we passed by dreamy villas by the lake. For all Star Wars fans, the villa pictured above is where Skywalker and Amidala got married. Since we’re talking Hollywood, I’ll also throw out the fact that we zoomed past Clooney’s villa as well.

Once our boat hit the docks of Bellagio, we followed our hunger to a restaurant situated at the best waterfront spot in town. We spent the best of the day soaking in Italian pasta, wine, and sunshine.






 The past came to life in Rome. The ruins, the pick pockets, and the crowds were some of Rome’s signature experiences. Though neither of us fell victim to Rome’s skilled thieves, a woman on our Vatican tour got her camera stolen right in front of St. Peter. Apart from clutching our belongings till our knuckles went white, we were able to stuff our faces with plenty of cheesy pizzas. We also hit up a handful of the must-see, overly-crowded touristy spots!










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part one of three




Our Italy travels started in Venice and ended in Naples with a progression of the following cities: Venice, Milan, Cinque Terre, Lake Como {Bellagio}, Florence, Rome, and Naples. Logistically, it made sense to start from the north and work our way south, but allow me to start our Italian adventures out of order with 2 of my favorite cities.


Let me also preface this post by thanking some very important people:

1. My butt-buddy, Kinjal- for being my spectacular friend and travel partner. We spent countless hours making this trip seamless and I really could not imagine doing this adventure with anyone else!
2. My dad- for letting us use his hard earned reward points on some of our hotels. My dad is wonderful!
3. My husband, Phil- for joyfully letting me satisfy some serious restlessness and for always supporting my need to ‘go on an adventure’.
4. Friends & friends of friends- who wrote us novels via email giving us their suggestion and sharing their experiences. We found everything you wrote helpful and referenced your advice often throughout the trip.


Cinque Terre is a beauty to behold. A force to be reckoned with. A coast that can launch 1,000 ships! The 5 towns, Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore, are linked together by the Ligurian Sea (an arm of the Mediterranean Sea). We arrived just a couple of minutes before midnight at the Margherita Hotel in Monterosso. Since we had less than 19 hours here, we woke up an hour before sunrise to find elevation. The hiking was difficult but rewarding. We passed by vineyards, rows of lemon trees, bubbling brooks, unending stone steps and a lot of other unspeakable, beautiful visions. We almost made it to Vernazza before we realized that 19 hours would not be enough time to hike and explore all 5 town; so we opted for the train instead.

We adopted the laid back, local attitude of these 5 towns and ate lot of pasta, drank lots of local wine, lounged on their beaches, inhaled countless gelato cones, and, my absolute favorite, people watched. It was hard to leave this town and every daydream I have now brings me back to their coasts.









Florence is another favorite because it was small enough to walk through but large enough to keep you captivated. Maybe it was our short stay that made this city so much sweeter? Nevertheless, this place completely redefined ‘romance’.

We opted for a homestay right by the Arno river. While the address indicated that we were on the 3rd floor, we had to scale 8 flights of narrow stairs. I’m still amazed we didn’t fall backwards and to our doom! Our hostess was kind and left us with city recommendations and cake. Kinjal and I then walked into the sunset, hand-in-hand (really- we did).



QuoteLife_Italy_Florence_11 QuoteLife_Italy_Florence_10







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I loved the extended layover as much as the main destination itself! I’ve been on a handful of adventurous layovers, but Turkey takes the cake. Besides the subway-butt-grabbing snafu, this trip was such an unexpected treat. Kinjal, my lovely traveling buddy, and I convinced ourselves that we didn’t need sleep on our 16 hour stop and opted to experience Istanbul instead. We regret nothing!

Some thing we found helpful:

1. Visa: You’ll need one if you want to leave the airport. You can fill one out online here.
2. Extra luggage space: We wanted to buy more than we can carry. Hello, Grand Bazaar!
3. Seek a local’s opinion: We asked small shop owners where they like to eat. We weren’t disappointed.

A big THANK YOU to friends who gave us recommendations for Istanbul. We printed out your emails, highlighted your suggestions, and referred to them during our trip. To all who suffer from a bad case of wanderlust, you really don’t want to pass up this colorful, culturally rich city!






This is the hubby who was almost there. Except he wasn’t really. He was basking in the florescent lights in his cubicle.





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There are several reasons why we love this time of year. What a perfect season to just straight chill with family, celebrate 3 birthdays and the parents’ anniversary, watch Elf and A Christmas Story 10 times each, drive around the neighborhood looking at Christmas lights, gorge on lots of yummy food, and enjoy the sparkly New Year.

This year has been amazing in every way. Clients, friends, and wonderful fans- we tell you this repeatedly: you are the heartbeat of our little business!  With every facebook ‘like’ to every page view to every booking, you make our hearts leap with gratitude (no joke)! Thank you for believing in and growing with us. As we wrap up a wedding filled 2013, we are hopeful that the new year will bring just as much joy and love.

We hope you have a beautiful Christmas and a happy New Year filled with friends, family, thanksgiving & laughter! Stay warm!


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For a lovely 7 days, our journey diverted our Taiwan travels southwest to the beautiful, heartbreaking kingdom of Thailand. We really appreciate the people we met on our trip and we still reflect upon our conversations. There were many personal observations and deep insight from other travelers that really magnified the disparity of issues such as their poor education system, human trafficking, sexual abuse, animal abuse..the list goes on. But through all the hardships thrown inevitably onto the people, there was also such unspeakable beauty in the people, land, and culture. So instead of despairing over what we can or cannot do, we choose to celebrate by thoroughly enjoying and appreciating all that this kingdom had to offer. Thailand- thank you for sharing your paradise with us!

Our journey started at the Secret Garden in Chiang Mai. Just as the name suggests, this bed-and-breakfast was a hidden gem just a songthaew ride away from the city. From the Garden, we went to play with elephants, get fish therapy, get massages, and shop the lively night markets.

We spent the day as “mahouts” in training.

Per our mahout- this is the elephant 7-eleven! They loved all the bananas and sugar canes we fed them!

We ate our yummy home cooked lunch while the elephants ate their afternoon snack.

We flew to Bangkok for a brief 22 hours & lived it up at the Mandarin Oriental. Since the hotel was so awesome, we never left. They even had a dress code for the lobby and other public areas in the hotel. We love a good reason to get dressed up!

Our last leg of the journey was a plane, boat, and car ride away from Bangkok. The beautiful Pimalai was tucked away on Koh Lanta and we’re afraid words can’t do this place justice!

I taught Phil to be an awesome photographer so he can take awesome pictures of me!

Husbands are good for shopping bags, travel bags- any bags, really!

Our new friend!

We biked to the local village from the resort in order to see these little critters. A lovely shop owner gave us a bunch of bananas to feed them!

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