Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Italian Honeymoon, part III: Milano and Sirmione

Morning two of our honeymoon found us ready ot leave Milan, and excited to get to our first real "destination" in Italy. We made reservations months earlier to see Da Vinci's Last Supper painting at Piazza Santa Maria delle Grazie.

From high school art history, I knew what to expect. So while I was excited to see my first famous art piece abroad, I wasn't anticipating how epic it would be.
We were blown away. The painted spans the length of an entire wall. It's been through wars, the elements, government changes...it's been restored beautifully. It's definitely a must-see in Italy!

You get a 20 minute tour which we found was really interesting and informative. (But you leave wishing you had more time to take in the painting!)



We then hopped on the train to Venice, where we planned to stay for 3 days.
But we made one little detour, and we were so glad we did!

Hopping off the train and the Descenzano stop, we arrived in the town of Brescia. After leaving our luggage with a local hotel (for 5 Euro a piece!) We strolled down to the ferry dock and hopped on the 20 minute ferry ride to Sirmione--an old medieval town famous for it's gorgeous castle ruins.



First stop--gelato! We couldn't get enough gelato in Italy. E had been raving about it for years since he visited Rome, and we had gelato at least once every single day of our 10 days there!


Much better. :-)
Now, onto the castle!



after walking around for a bit


and discovering this lovely view


we sucked it up and paid the admission fee to get in the castle.






Do you see me under that arch down below?



The water was so calm and blue..., and contrasted with the castle ruins. I just couldn't get enough! We both decided if we could go back we'd spend at least 3 days in Sirmione!

Before leaving, we stopped at a local shop for pizza which we ate on the lawn and waited for the ferry to return us to our train. (It's cheaper in most restaurants to eat elsewhere, there is usually a sitting fee or required gratuity.)

Prscuitto y fungo pizza. Delicioso!


then began our trek to Venice...

Friday, October 16, 2009

Italian Honeymoon, part II: Milano

Where was I? Oh yes, we just spent 3 relaxing wonderful days getting used to calling each other husband and wife, lazing on the beach and sipping wine in the hot tub.

We drove back to Chicago, and stayed in a hotel near O'Hare the night before our morning flight (free shuttle was a must!)
I couldn't sleep...I think E got sick of me singing "We are going to Italy TOMORROW!"

We flew American Airlines because we had earned one free round trip international flight--Thank you AAdvantage credit card!

We flew overnight (got some awful neck cramps and little sleep) and landed in Milan at 8am. Since it was too early to check in, we left our luggage with the hotel and decided to explore the city.
We had heard from seasoned travelers that there isn't much to do in Milan and within 3 hours of being there, we had to agree. The train system was easy to navigate, but the sites were unimpressive, and it was primarily an industrial city.

It wasn't all a loss though!
We found a lovely park that we wondered through: (I have many more pictures of Parco Sempione that I'll post in a separate post. Italy is beautiful all over!)

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walked through a little market:

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And ended up at the enormous Duomo (churches or cathedrals in italy are all referred to a duomo)

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an Italian guy with pockets full of corn, threw some into my hand so the pigeons would perch on me. I was shocked at his boldness and didn't know how to respond, so husband quickly pulled me away and said "No, Grazie" firmly to the guy. I think he was a little embarrassed at my touristy ignorance (they expect you to pay them...and the pigeons are really gross!)

Unfortunately, we didn't realize that women must be modestly dress before entering any cathedrals (covered shoulders and knees). So we wandered a bit more before walking back to the hotel. We made our way back later in the day.

Right next to the duomo is a large, open-air shopping center, Galleria Vittorio Emmaneule II. This is the entrance. (nothing like the malls at home!)

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we walked through
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not far from here (back near the park) are the ruins of Castello Sforzesco

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Back at the Duomo before dinner:

E climbed up the tower and took this incredible shot halfway up!

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I waited down below squinting my eyes up to see if I could find my speck of a hubby. I never found him, but he found me!

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(I'm the one with my hand over my eyes, standing alone towards the top center)

After standing and looking for a good 30 minutes, I sat and waited on the steps below, hoping hubby would be able to find me!
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Good night Milano! Day 1 in Italy complete.

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Monday, October 5, 2009

psst! I'm fashionably modest...

Jenna (aka Mrs. Avocado and Jenna Cole) @ That Wife Blog featured me today in her Fashionably Modest series!

Go check it out!

The picture had to be taken with an automatic timer in my office, so it's not that great, but I'm glad I didn't wait for an alternative, as my camera broke shortly after the picture was taken!

Honeymoon I: Taking a break before Italy

One of our best decisions about the honeymoon was to leave for Italy four days after our wedding.

We were both thrilled to be going to Italy (and I can't wait to share that with you!)
But we needed some time to sleep, relax and enjoy each other before beginning our big trip. It was so worth it! We were able to stay in bed half the day (without feeling guilty that we were missing out on the sights of Italy), sip wine in the hot tub at our hotel, laze on the beach and read for a couple days before traveling. It was so wonderful!

Our first night was spent in Chicago. We stayed at the Hyatt Regency for an absolute steal (Thank you Priceline!). Our room was on the 31st floor and--we found out the next morning--had a great view of the river, Lake Michigan, and Navy Pier.




After a lazy morning (or should I say afternoon!), we headed up to a very familiar place to me and my family: Holland, MI...

me and my goofy husband. I was going for the kiss and he couldn't stop laughing.


the beach--a little cloudy, but still warm and relaxing.


(that little highlighted circle is the husband taking a stroll down the pier) :-)

I highly recommend if you're planning a busy European sightseeing honeymoon, to take a little mini moon (even if you just stay home) before leaving.
We definitely don't regret it!

edited to add:

oops! I amost forgot. we also got a chance to meet our good friends (and my bridesmaid) Cait and Wil for ice cream sundaes before we headed out to Italy. They got married just a few weeks after us.
Captain Sundae holds some memories for me and Cait and it's a classic Holland stop, so it was fun to visit with our boys. [and Eric and I couldn't resist going twice in two days :-)]



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