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!

Monterosso, Cinque Terre

Overall Monterosso was probably my favorite village in Cinque Terre. We visited Monterosso on our first day and immediately knew it was the perfect place for our afternoon nap. You see, our drive down to Italy from Germany didn't conclude until 3:30 am that morning and we were all a bit tired. After visiting Vernazzo that morning we were ready to relax in the sand. We settled into a private beach with lounge chairs, umbrellas, and daiquiris/pina coladas. It wasn't long before my eyes got too heavy for beach reading and a quick nap was in order.

Monterosso had a little bit of everything and was very unique in that it had a tunnel that separated the old town and the new town. In the old town we ate dinner and shopped for wine, pesto, and souvenirs. In the new town you'll find the train station, numerous restaurants, and more of a resort feel. The character-filled old town and the more bustling new town was the perfect combination and gave a great balance to the experience.

Next Up… Riomaggiore!

Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre

Riomaggiore is the most southern of the Cinque Terre villages and is where we started our second day. The view of the brightly colored houses on the rocks was equally as impressive as Vernazzo and we spent most of the time taking pictures. We probably would have explored Riomaggiore more, but the Via dell'Amore (Lover's Lane) was closed. Although we were temporarily husbandless (Thanks, Army!) and the title of the trail may not have been fitting, we were looking forward to the amazing views the hike promised. If the trail was open we would have been able to walk to Manarola.

Next Up…. Manarola!

Manarola, Cinque Terre

Manarola is an itty bitty village in Cinque Terre. It's actually the second smallest of all the villages, but we probably had our most memorable experience there. As you walk down towards the marina you'll notice crowds gathering to watch the brave individuals dive off the cliffs into the popular swimming hole. It was definitely "the thing" to do.

The day before we had laid on the sandy beaches of Monterosso and decided that in Manarola we wanted to experience sunbathing on the rocks and swimming in the Ligurian Sea. However by the time we reached Manarola (our second village of the day) the swimming hole was already pretty crowded. So we grabbed some food to-go (delicious fried seafood, pesto pizza, & beer) and head down to the left hoping it would be a little less crowded. Thanks to the advice of another American we wound up at the dock of one of the ferries. It was perfectly secluded since the ferries stopped running between 12:00 and 14:00. When our bellies were full from lunch and our bodies aching for the refreshing cool water we went back to the swimming hole and jumped in. None of us were brave enough to jump from the higher cliffs, but it was still an amazing experience. We sunbathed on the rocks again until our bathing suits were dry and we were ready to hop on over to the next village.

Next Up… Corniglia!

06 July 2014

Corniglia, Cinque Terre

The last village we visited was Corniglia. In order to reach Corniglia you must climb a flight of over 350 steps. Once you finally make it into town you quickly realize how different it is from the other villages. There are more narrow alleyways and instead of walking down to the beach you continue to rise in elevation and reach an observation deck. There you will find a beautiful view of the marina below and the other villages out in the distance. Corniglia was my least favorite village in Cinque Terre and I found to be a bit anti-climatic after the great displays of houses on the cliffs in the other villages. Although I must say that our fruit salad gelatos and cold drinks picked up our spirits and off we went back to our favorite village, Monterosso, for dinner.