Honeymoon Recap – Corsica

Another port visit on our honeymoon adventure took us to Corsica. We planned to do a half-day guided tour of Ajaccio – the Imperial City. We started out on bus for the first hour and then spent about 90-minutes walking through the city.

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They are very proud of Napoleon here. We first stopped at a monument to him with what our guide called a realistic statue on top as opposed to the other ones we would see of him throughout the island that made him look Roman. The statue was right next to a small cave where he supposedly played as a child.

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We drove along the coastline taking in some breathtaking views as we learned more about the history of Corsica. Once we set out on the walking portion we saw two different Churches  and learned how intermingled culture and religion were here. Also, many of their monuments are new and have been put up very recently – something different than most of Europe.

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We also saw the still-occupied French garrison, which no longer has a moat and instead has donkeys there to eat the grass. Finally we stopped at Napoleon’s house and birthplace.

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I finally ran out of energy so we called it a day and ventured back to the boat after our half-day tour. We enjoyed a bottle of our new favorite Italian wine we had brought from the hotel in Rome on the balcony of our ship-room. We watched the most amazing sunset as we pulled away from Corsica and the Blood Islands on a perfect night and sat talking into the dark.

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Honeymoon Recap – Nice, Monaco & Monte Carlo

Our amazing honeymoon trip continued with a stop in Nice. For this port, the boat docked out in the water, so we took mini boats called tenders in to shore. Ian and I chose to do this day mostly on our own and opted just for transportation. We hopped on the bus to Nice and our tour guide welcomed us with the warning that she usually loses at least one on each trip, so don’t be late getting back to the bus. She then handed out cards with the number for the cruise in case we did get left behind – yikes!

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To top things off, because every couple ahead of us decided they EACH needed a map, she ran out of maps by the time she got to us. She insisted we would be fine if we just, “memorize the city with our eyes.” I tried to explain that would be tough given we had never been here before. No one wanted to part with their maps though, so we struck out on our own hoping for the best! Sheesh!

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Nice was a cool city, but with only a few hours we didn’t get to see too much. We saw the Court – called the Palace of Justice – and walked through the flower market. We saw the statue of Apollo and then walked through a park built over a river bed that steam shot up through. We took a bunch of pictures here pretending to walk through the steam like badasses, because we are just that cool!

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Before finding our way back we took a long walk along a rocky beach. I was expecting beautiful white sand beaches, so this surprised me, but I’m guessing they are in another part of Nice?!? We also stopped at a cute little cafe/bakery where we had the best peanut butter chocolate chip cookies – they were still warm along with a hot chocolate for me and an Oreo milkshake for Ian!

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The bus took us to Monaco next. This might be one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen and one of the places I would definitely want to go back to some day. We started our afternoon in Old Monaco City, which is built on top of a giant cliff and has unbelievably beautiful views from the top.

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We got a quick history lesson and learned why Monaco is referred to as a Prinipality instead of a Kingdom – it is a country too small to be considered a kingdom so they are ruled by a prince who will never become king. We walked by an Ocean Musem once run by Jacques Cousteau and saw the Church where Princess Grace is buried.

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We ate lunch outside of a small restaurant called Pasta Roca. With apologies to Rome, Ian enjoyed the best fettuccine alfredo he has ever had and I had one pretty amazing four cheese white pizza. Yum!

The best part of the day was we got to visit the city of Monte Carlo, which we were initially told would be closed because of a meeting of heads of state. We took a city bus to Monte Carlo, which took us along the route of the famous Grand Prix there – so cool! The bus was empty except for us and a guy in a three-piece suit. Apparently this is what happens when you have public transportation and no poor people in a city. As we pulled in to Monte Carlo we got a glimpse into how the other half lives…or maybe the other one percent is more like it.

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We of course went to the Casino Royale. The cars parked in front were unreal. We saw Bentleys, BMWs, a McLaren, a Rolls Royce and more! I had never heard of a McLaren – when I asked Ian if they were considered nice cars he told me they cost a million dollars – wow. The casino was also surrounded with expensive shops like Cartier, Chanel, Louis Vuitton and on and on.

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We peeked into the main Casino to see the lobby, which was beautiful, but were chased out when we were unwilling to pay the 10 euro fee each just to get on the casino floor. We popped into a side casino where we played pin-ball like roulette for an hour and turned our 5 euros into 12.50. Woo – we took money out of Monte Carlo! I left out the exact amount and just told everyone else on the bus we had more than doubled our money, haha!

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After heading back to Monaco we took in some more views of the Alps and the water. We saw so many amazing yachts including one so big it had a helicopter pad!

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It was a very cool trip and if anyone ever wants to bankroll me, I would love to go back and really play in the Casino Royale!

 

Christmas in Florida

After many years of spending Christmas in Syracuse with one or two years in D.C. we decided to totally mix things up this year and do Christmas in Florida! My uncle was kind enough to loan us his condo near West Palm Beach for the week, so Ian and I met up there with my parents and my brother and his wife.

It was quite the busy year for my family with both my brother and I getting married in August and October, so a quiet, relaxing week in the Florida sunshine was absolutely perfect.

While hot and humid runs may not be the easiest, it felt so incredibly good to head out the door in just shorts and a tank. We’ll be back in DC by 9am today and I’m not looking forward to layering up again for runs this week.

There was a really great Downtown area not far from where we stayed filled with cool shops and restaurants. Seeing as our favorite bar back home is called Mulligans, we made sure to fit in a couple trips to the Mulligans here!

On Christmas Eve we went to a great Italian spot called 18 Seminole Street Italian Bistro. It was an old house converted into a restaurant and the food was amazing. I went with the classic spaghetti and meatballs and it was delicious. I also loved a chain pizza place called Anthony’s just around the corner from us – amazing coal-fired pizza!

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We also checked out a sports bar called Duffy’s and found a great ice cream spot one night! One of my favorite evenings was spent sitting outside at a restaurant/bar called Pelican Cafe. The picnic table outside each had an umbrella and sat on a sandy beach overlooking the water and boats. We spent a few hours drinking some beers and reveling in the fact that we were sitting outside in December!

In addition to eating out we enjoyed some great home-cooked meals as well including steaks on Christmas Day and a turducken over the weekend!

We also fit in a few trips to the movies for The Imitation Game and Unbroken. Both were based on true stories and both were incredible movies. Imitation Game was a really interesting story I didn’t know much about going into it, but really enjoyed. One of my favorite quotes from the movie was: “Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.” Unbroken was absolutely incredible and probably the best movie I’ve seen all year. Louis Zamperini’s story of courage and refusing to give up in the face of unbelievable adversity was incredibly moving and inspiring.

All in all it was a great week and such a fun way to spend Christmas!