22 December 2014

Merry Christmas from the Leighs

2014 Leigh Family Christmas Card

Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe help to make the season bright. 
Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow will find it hard to sleep tonight. 
They know that Santa's on his way. He's loaded lots of toys & goodies on his sleigh.
And every mother's child is gonna spy to see if reindeer really know how to fly.
And so I'm offering this simple phrase to kids from one to ninety-two
Although it's been said many times many ways, Merry Christmas to you!

08 October 2014

2014 Squadron Ball

Well, our second military ball is in the books. I would have to say we've learned quite a bit in our few years in the military and I think one of the most important things is always. eat. first. Whether it's a Hail and Farewell or a Squadron Ball, never go hungry. You're just setting yourself up for failure... and grumpiness. These things always run a bit behind schedule. Since I helped set up this year we booked a room in the hotel attached to the venue. After setting up we ordered room service to munch on while we got ready. Ordering pizzas before the ball was probably the best decision we made all night. 

We had a great time at what will probably be our last ball in Germany. We sat with some of our favorite people from RC's troop. The Grog Ceremony was hilarious and it's always an entertaining night when you pack soldiers in a room with copious amounts of alcohol. I loved my dress and RC looked just as handsome as ever. I definitely had the best looking soldiers in the room. :) All in all it was a great night! 

Photos courtesy of Susanna Avery-Lynch. You can visit her Facebook page here. 

Partnach Gorge

Two weekends ago we went down to Garmisch for a Strong Bonds Marriage Retreat. Strong Bonds Retreats are for married couples to grow closer together and develop healthy communication skills. I think they are a great resource for service members and their spouses. Military life can be hard and it's nice to have some time to reconnect. It was a perfect getaway for us as RC was able to get off two days from work and we were able to have a free day from the marriage training to go and explore. 

I have always wanted to visit the Partnach Gorge, but there are so many amazing things do in the vicinity of Garmisch-Partkirchen that this just seemed to fall by the wayside. By our third visit to Garmisch we were finally able to hike the gorges and we would not have asked for more perfect weather. The Partnach Gorge is one of those frustrating places where pictures just don't do it justice. It was an incredible experience. Luckily it didn't end there. The gorge empties out into a few hiking trails that show off how beautiful Germany is in the fall. 

02 October 2014


  • FLIGHT -- RYANAIR :: I cannot say enough good things about flying with RyanAir. Incredibly cheap flights. Never any delays. They have allowed us to see so much of Europe while saving some major $$$.  
  • TRANSPORTATION :: Since this was such a last minute trip I did not get to plan as much as I usually do. We decided to spend a little more money and stay in a hotel that was more centrally located. This made it much more convenient for us to be within walking distant from some amazing attractions. Following advice from our friends, we purchased Hop On, Hop Off tickets and used those to get to Vatican. The price was comparable for a taxi ride and allowed us to use the bus service for days when we were tired of walking. 
  • HOTEL -- HOTEL BOLIVAR :: As a mentioned above we splurged on the hotel, but it was well worth it. We definitely paid for the location and not the size of the room. It was tiny! But this wasn't an issue since I had read many reviews on TripAdvisor saying that very thing. The staff was very helpful and breakfast selection was wonderful with the most amazing view. 
(Check out this Instagram picture to see what I'm talking about!

Coliseum & the Roman Forum

St. Peter's Basilica & the Vatican Museum

When in Rome...

Do your best Audrey Hepburn impression at the Mouth of Truth!

Take advantage of the FREE water fountains spread out all around the city. 

Rome was a special trip for me for a lot of reasons. First, RC was gone for most of the summer. So I was extremely thankful when his command decided to grant him an extra four day weekend. I missed him terribly, and anytime we get to travel after he's been gone I always feel like it's another "mini-honeymoon". I always love quality time with that handsome man of mine! Second, visiting Rome has always been a dream of mine and I think it started sometime around when I saw Roman Holiday for the first time. Roman Holiday is one of my favorite Audrey Hepburn films and it's a go-to for a rainy day movie. Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck will make any city look romantic, but Rome is definitely a city that can stand on its own. Our visit lived up to all of my expectations and my only disappointment was that the Trevi Fountain was under MAJOR renovations while we were there. We had a fantastic time in Rome and are so thankful we were able to check it off the list. 

26 July 2014

Highlights of the Month :: July

I'm going to attempt to do a highlights post for each month. It's fun and exciting for me to post travel pictures, but there are still day-to-day happenings that I want to remember. Life isn't all travel over here-- sadly.
  • Let's start things off with the Girls Trip to Cinque Terre, Italy. I went with three of my favorite girls in Germany and had an absolute blast. We really bonded during the 2012/2013 deployment and I'm so thankful for their friendships! You can find posts recapping our time in each of the five village in Cinque Terre HERE
  • RC's unit is currently in the Baltics participating in a multi-national training exercise. In mid-July we reached the 1 month mark of "the boys" being gone. It's always fun to reach milestones when RC is gone for an extended period of time. i.e., 3 months. You can find pictures of the 173rd in the Baltics HERE
  • In other Army news, RC made the captains selections list! This means that after an extensive selection process he has been recommended for promotion. Although he won't actually be promoted until sometime in the Spring of 2015 I am incredibly proud of him! It's getting tougher and tougher to be promoted these days. 
  • I also got to have the most incredible experience of watching Germany in the final of the World Cup. Let me just tell you- this country went INSANE! I'm not a huge fan of soccer, but when you're in Europe and the country you reside in lives and breathes soccer and then makes it to the finals-- you can't help but drink the koolaid! After much yelling and cheering as time ran out I realized I needed to capture this moment. Here's a quick video from a bar in Regensburg where we watched the game. It's been something like 14 years since they've won the World Cup. So you can just call us Germany's good luck charm. ;)

07 July 2014

Exploring Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre was my second visit to Italy. (The first being Pisa.) Cinque Terre was such an amazing experience. Definitely one of my favorite destinations in all of Europe. This region of the Italian Riviera is broken into 5 different villages. You can travel among the cliffside villages by walking path, train, or boat. Reaching within Cinque Terre by car is nearly impossible. The only vehicles you will see are shuttles for hotels and an occasional work truck. This was one of the many reasons why Cinque Terre ranks so high on my list of favorites. I love cities with large pedestrian zones and the freedom to meander down streets and alleyways without having to worry about traffic.

We stayed in the town of Lovanto, technically outside the Cinque Terre. This allowed us to get as close as possible to Cinque Terre since we were driving from Germany and had our car. Each day we took the short 10 minute train ride into Cinque Terre. I could have not have been more happy with where we stayed. (Thanks, Sarah!) On our last evening we finally had time to explore the town of Lovanto and were blown away. At that point we were desperately wishing we had just one more day in Italy. I could not have asked for a better girls trip!

Below are posts recapping our time in each of the five villages in Cinque Terre.

Vernazzo, Cinque Terre

Vernazzo was the first village we visited in Cinque Terre. It was absolutely everything I imagined Cinque Terre to be. Absolutely picturesque with the brightly colored houses on the cliffs. Amazing views of the shoreline. The smell of pesto, garlic, and fresh made bread. And gelaterias galore. It was the perfect introduction to Cinque Terre. In Vernazzo we decided to attempt to get a group picture in all five villages. Thanks Mr. Russian man for the photo. :)

Next Up… Monterosso!