Category Archives: Road Trip

South of France and Spain

July 5th. And then there were two.

It was definitely sad at first traveling without the family, but seeing the new sights helped us to quickly replace our feelings of sadness with feelings of “Wow, look at that!” We ventured from the villa in the Tuscany/Umbria region of Italy to the north and to the west. The first day of travel would have three stops, with the first being Genoa, Italy.

Genoa is a nice coastal town. Parts of it are picturesque, like this shot of Boccadasse.

Boccadasse, like a magazine
Boccadasse, like a magazine

When you see these quintessential travel magazine scenes in front of you, it’s indescribable. You feel like your in travel magazine, each new day is a new page or article. Only instead of pictures and words of incredible things you are living them. You see not one picture, but a streaming flow of beauty. You don’t see a picture of food. You experience the food with the tastes and smells and textures and temperatures and everything else that is going on. When you see this stuff in a magazine you say, “wow, I wish I could see that someday.” But when you are here living it, you think “this is fucking amazing.” I hope if anyone reading this ever wanted to do some traveling that you find some way to get out there. Sure, there is a ton of frustration and problems and complexities and you’ll hear from a bunch of people how a million things can go wrong, but that stuff is well worth going through to get this experience and live this stuff. Maybe I feel that way because I made traveling a dream of mine and I decided to pursue it rather than let it stay a dream. I think the bigger takeaway here is to not just dream but also to physically manifest those dreams. Dream it. Figure out what you need to do it. Then do it.

Ok, tangent over. After hanging in the Boccadasse neighborhood of Genoa we decided to grab some food. It was siesta time so we had to settle for something else. We grabbed these incredible homemade ice cream sandwiches. It’s been very common in Italy for people to naturally go above and beyond and their ice cream sandwiches are no exception.

Always go the extra step
Always go the extra step

After the quick snack we ventured back near the car to a Chinese food place, which was something we wanted to get in a European country to compare to the Chinese food back in America. It was pretty cool to see the localization with the Chinese food menu including pasta, risotto, and gnocchi dishes. We went with a prawn dish. This is what Chinese food looks like in Genoa.

Chinese food in Genoa, Italy
Chinese food in Genoa, Italy

We hopped back in the car and made our way to Monte Carlo, Monaco. I’m trying to think of a richer playground than this but I don’t think I can think of anywhere in the world where more rich people come to relax. The drive in along the cliffs is breathtaking. The marina where the yachts are docked is gorgeous. It’s almost comical how many Bentley, Maybach, Rolls, Lambo, Ferrari, etc. are on the streets and in the parking spaces here. I love cars and it’s just a treat to see everything on display here.

Yachts in Monte Carlo
Yachts in Monte Carlo

We decided to check out the Casino de Monte Carlo square and the Hotel de Paris. There was a bunch of gentlemen playing some great songs outside of both. They were killing it with tremendously posh versions of Coldplay and other popular songs.

Tuxedos and pop music
Tuxedos and pop music

Walking around and seeing all this stuff you can’t help but wish to have piles of money so we decided to go to the casino and win big. I got rejected at the door based on my dress code. Great. Came all the way to Monte Carlo to pretend to be James Bond and I can’t even get in the door. Walked back to car which was parked incredibly close and threw on some fresh pants and a dress shirt. Walked back to the casino and I was in. Unfortunately they don’t allow cameras in the casino, but we had an epic time in there. Megan didn’t know how to play any games so I taught her roulette really quickly. Pick red or pick black. If the ball lands on that color then you win your money. I don’t normally gamble because I learned statistics at some point in my life and I am fairly rigorous with applying common sense and not throwing my money away, but this was a special occasion. The plan was for each of us to put 25 Euro on a color. If we won, then we had free drinks on the house. If we lost then we would still get a drink but it would be a much sadder affair. Megan went first. She chose black. Cold-blooded. Wheel spins. As it’s spinning I’m thinking man, that’s around $35 with the current conversion to dollars. The ball falls off the wall of the wheel and starts bouncing around colors. Looks like it will hit black. Then red. Then oh maybe it can hit black again. No not red, come on. Finally lands on black. Boom! Beginner’s luck. Megan wins and now it’s time for me to go. I tell her to place my chips on red. Then I ask her if she thinks it’s good. She’s lucky. “Should I put it on black? Or should I stay red?” The chips stay on red. She’s not making the decision for me. Wheel’s spinning. Ball’s going around. “Man, I hope I’m not throwing away $35.” The ball hits the wheel. Starts bouncing again. Looks like red. Then black. Then red again. What’s it going to end on? Boom, red. Heck, yea! We pick up our chips and cash them in after a single spin each. We won big. Took down the house. Went off to the bar and ordered a drink, technically on the house. Thanks suckers! A 17 Euro mojito and 20 Euro martini never tasted so good.

We go out of there and strolled around a bit more. Monte Carlo is a dream world, and it’s great because you don’t have to be rich to enjoy it, although someday I would like to come back with a pile of cash and do it right.

Feeling like a million bucks in Monte Carlo
Feeling like a million bucks in Monte Carlo

After we got out of there we ventured through the winding roads into Nice, France. The area we stayed at was a little gritty, or at least it felt like that coming from the richest place in the world. But looking back on it, that’s the same grittiness that you see throughout Europe. Some places are a little rough around the edges, but most of that is just a difference of what I’m used to seeing. America I’m sure has the same grittiness but I’m just used to it. I go in to Newark, NJ to watch the Red Bulls play soccer and I never think twice about it. We grabbed pizzas that night while watching Costa Rica almost pull off the miracle against Netherlands before losing out on penalties.

The next day we got out of the hotel and ventured off to check out what Nice and the south of France had to offer. There is a cool old section that has a nice park. There are water streams that turn into steam clouds in this fountain area of the park. It was a cool image to see the reflection of the water on the ground.

Park in Nice, France
Park in Nice, France

After strolling around the park and grabbing a crepe and some espresso (not as good as in Italy), we strolled over to the beach. Wow. What a great beach. The only negative for me was the stones instead of white sand, but wow. The water was incredible. The whole scene was just gorgeous. It was fun to lay out and get some tanning and swimming in.

Beach in Nice, France
Beach in Nice, France

After relaxing we went back to one of the many outdoor cafes and order a seafood tower that had a bunch of awesome seafood. Yea mom, some of it was raw, but everything is fine with me. I’m healthy and feeling great!

Seafood tower
Seafood tower

After lunch we ventured off to Marseille, France. We drove up to the Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde. It was closed but it was an impressive looking church way at the top of the highest point in Marseille. It’s amazing to me how much work and effort went into building churches in Europe.

Another impressive church
Another impressive church

The view from the church is definitely worth the drive to the top. Hard to beat being up here and taking in the view.

Best view of Marseille
Best view of Marseille

After taking way too long to find the hotel and parking because of the narrowest of streets and road closures, we got to the hotel. I needed a shower to freshen up but had to settle for a bath, as that’s all the hotel offered.

Just taking a bath
Just taking a bath

We walked down to the old port area and looked for a place to eat. A bunch of restaurants were closing but a few stayed open for the later crowd. We found a place with mussels and fries, which I never knew was a popular French dish that you will see everywhere. I tried to take a picture but the steam from the mussels fogged the lens so no picture for that, which I’m sure is fine for some of you. I post a lot of pictures of food because I love food. I think food is one of the most important parts of a culture, but feel free to skip past all of my food pictures. After the delicious dinner we skipped back to the hotel for some sleep.

Day three of trip post-villa would include a stop in Montpellier, France to pick up some lunch. We grabbed some pretzels from a stand and some sandwiches that were on pretzel bun. I went with a prosciutto and cheese sandwich and a foie gras sandwich. I should probably stop eating the foie because of how it’s produced though, but it was incredibly delicious.

Hazy Montpellier
Hazy Montpellier

We hopped back in the car and made our way to Barcelona, Spain. After some driving we arrived in Barcelona. At this point we were getting used to driving around the tiny European roads and maneuvering through the narrow parking decks and were able to get to our hotel without too much effort. Well, other than driving through a pedestrian square and having to reverse as it was not intended for vehicles.

Barcelona is a great city. There are a lot of younger people and it’s reflected throughout the city. We stopped for an incredible meal at Cera 23, which was a short walk from our hotel. They are known for their mojitos so we ordered one of those. More delicious was the food. I wasn’t carrying my DSLR so I couldn’t get any good pictures of the food, but the meal ended up being so good that we found ourselves back there the next night. We ordered octopus done in a traditional Spanish style of olive oil, paprika and large salt. It’s one of the best things that I have eaten on the trip. Absolutely perfect dish that I would eat many times before ever getting tired of it. I ordered it again the next night. In addition to the octopus we got some tuna and a seafood rice dish. The rice dish was very unique. I think it might have had the skins of an onion or some other ingredient sticking out of the rice that would expand and contract to make it look alive. It’s hard to explain but it was a very cool presentation.

Dos mojitos at Cera 23
Dos mojitos at Cera 23

The next day we started the day off with some espresso and cappuccino at Caravelle. It was a coffee house that had delicious sounding tapas, so we went with shrimp, fish, and cauliflower tacos. We also grabbed a beer brewed in Barcelona that they were selling there.

Tacos at Caravelle
Tacos at Caravelle

After scoring some WiFi we ventured off to La Sagrada Familia, which is a famous church in Barcelona. It was completely under renovation, which is surprising for a church that had commenced building 130 years ago. I eventually found out that they never finished building the church; it should be finished sometime in the next 10-15 years. Interesting. We waited in the whole line for about half an hour in some heat before I decided I didn’t want to pay the 40 Euros for two people to go see the inside of the church. Maybe it was the heat, maybe it was that I had already seen a bunch of churches, maybe it was the unsuccessful beggars asking people for money in line, maybe it was me thinking about the massive amount of resources that have been spent and are continuing to be spent to build churches, I don’t know what it was, but I just wanted to get out of there. It probably is worth a visit, especially in 15 years when it is completely finished.

La Sagrada Familia being built
La Sagrada Familia being built

The church was designed by Antoni Gaudi, a legendary wizard of design and architecture and a staple amongst the Barcelona scenery. We decided to visit one of his works called the Casa Batllo, which is a house that he designed. It also cost 40 Euros for two people to go see but it was worth the money. The amount of detail that he put into this house was incredible. The house was possibly inspired by Jules Verne’s science fiction, underwater scenes, fantastical works, and Gaudi’s deep imagination.

Casa Batllo
Casa Batllo

I shot this chandelier from underneath and it has a very different perspective than what you might see walking through the room. Maybe it looks like an eye or a creature like a spider or something else. The whole house is open to interpretation. The paint on the wall is continued throughout the house and may have been used to make the walls resemble an animal/dinosaur/creature’s crackled skin.

Chandelier at the Batllo House
Chandelier at the Batllo House

Gaudi’s finesse and control over his materials enabled him to create shapes that seem very uneasy to accomplish. The entire house has almost no straight lines. This room is a good example of mastery across many materials.

Mastery across many materials
Mastery across many materials

There is a lot of blue and underwater themes to the house. Another impressive skill Gaudi had was to utilize light. The house had many stories but each room in the house had some sort of opening into which it received natural light. There are almost no lights needed to maneuver around the house other than the chandeliers, which were used much more to set moods and enhance the settings of the rooms.

After Gaudi we ventured off to Catalana, which is a tapas restaurant. We ordered numerous little bites of food, but among the best were the grilled cuttlefish and razor clams. Razor clams don’t usually make their way onto the American menus so it was great to score a plate for only a few euros.

Razor clams at Catalana
Razor clams at Catalana

After tapas we strolled across La Rambla, which is a famous tourist street in Barcelona. We eventually made our way back to Cera 23 for desert, but I opted for that octopus dish again. It was delicious, but the kitchen was swamped and it couldn’t hit the perfection of the night before. Still, it was an amazing dish and I would order it again and again. We also grabbed a ceviche that was refreshing. So our desert kind of became a second round of tapas but we eventually scored a sweet to finish off the night.

Octopus at Cera 23
Octopus at Cera 23

We only had a few hours sleep because the next morning we hopped a flight to Ibiza. We were originally planning on cruising to Ibiza from Valencia because it was supposed to be cheaper and I was looking forward to the ride, but the flight was the same price. We had a flight on Ryanair, which was a disastrous affair. Almost missed the flight because it took them two hours to print a boarding pass. We went back and forth from line to line and the workers were clueless as to how to help us. Then they started closing lines and queues grew longer and longer. It was a disaster. But no worries, we got on the 50-minute flight to Ibiza. We took a taxi over to the San Antonio part of the island where we were staying. We laid out at the pool while waiting for our room since we were there so early. After checking out what was happening around the island we opted for Nas over Steve Aoki, Lil Jon, Graham Sahara, Danny Wade, and Angel Linde who were at Pacha. I didn’t expect to go to Ibiza to see hip-hop but I was thrilled. The Nas concert was killer. He played a bunch of hits and was celebrating the 20th anniversary of Illmatic.

Queensbridge to Ibiza
Queensbridge to Ibiza

We had another early flight back to Barcelona and almost got booted from the Ryanair flight because we didn’t go through some sort of passport check or something. Who knows with this airline. We got through another quick flight and grabbed the car from Barcelona airport and were able to successfully get to Valencia without too much struggle considering the lack of sleep the previous two nights.

We grabbed some sleep when we got to the hotel and eventually wandered out for some paella at Canela. It wasn’t authentic Valencia paella which comes with duck, rabbit, and vegetables since we opted for the seafood paella. The rice was brilliantly cooked. This was the view from our table. Everyone eats outside in Europe, and the views of the city are usually awesome.

Eating paella at Canela
Eating paella at Canela

Valencia was intended to be a restful day back when we put the itinerary together and it paid off. We were well rested for the next day in Madrid. Madrid is a city that a lot of people have been saying is not worth the visit. I completely disagree. I think Madrid is well worth several hours drive. You can easily spent a couple days in Madrid. We started our day off with some homemade pastries, vanilla wafers, espressos, and cappuccinos. The espresso at this little cafe next to our hotel was the best since leaving Italy. I tried to use my Spanish to communicate that I didn’t want a single and wanted a double. I said it as “no pequeno, pero grande” or something like that. I think they sell their espresso as small and large and the large is like a triple shot, which is great. I love espresso so generally the more the better.

Treats to start the day
Treats to start the day

We ventured off for Plaza Mayor, which was a nice walk from our hotel. We stumbled upon the Market of San Miguel, which had incredibly fresh and delicious ingredients, tapas, and drinks.

Market of San Miguel
Market of San Miguel

Spain was coming out of siesta so we grabbed some sangria, oysters, and cheeses as an appetizer until dinner time. All of the food and drink from the market was delicious.

Oysters at the Market of San Miguel
Oysters at the Market of San Miguel

We wanted to go to Botin for dinner, which is the oldest still running restaurant in Spain, and one of the oldest in the world. It was founded in 1725. But we couldn’t get seated, as it was completely booked for the night. We instead opted for dinner at Los Galayos in the square. They had some great seafood paella.

Paella in Plaza Mayor
Paella in Plaza Mayor

After dinner we strolled around the square some more before venturing back to the hotel for the night.

Strolling Plaza Mayor
Strolling Plaza Mayor

The next morning involved a pretty long drive to San Sebastian, which is a town in northern Spain close to the French border. It’s a nice shore town that sits on the Bay of Biscay. The beach is worth a visit.

Beach of San Sebastian
Beach of San Sebastian

The water was warm and the sun was shining, which was great given that it looked like we were driving into a storm on the drive from Madrid.

Hanging in San Sebastian
Hanging in San Sebastian

The night should be spent in the town grabbing tapas, or pinxtos as they are called here, from the many restaurants. We went to a few but Borda Berri was the best. All of their dishes were good but I think maybe the octopus is the best.

Octopus at Borda Berri
Octopus at Borda Berri

It’s been a very busy week since we left the villa in Italy. We’ve been through Monaco, the south of France, and Spain. Tomorrow we are heading back into France for several days before swinging in to Switzerland. Tomorrow should be a fun time touring vineyards in Bordeaux. The trip has been a dream so far and I’m looking forward to what the rest has in store.

Hasta luego!

In a villa sipping vino

I’ve been so busy traveling around that I haven’t had time to update until now. In the last week I’ve been immersed in the Italian countryside. Sienna was a great city. Like all of Italy, it has great coffee. I’m definitely going to miss the coffee when I leave Italy. The espressos are my favorite but some of the more elaborate coffees are good too.

Italian cafes are delightful
Italian cafes are delightful

The city was getting ready for its famous horse racing festival, which is held twice a year. During the race horses run around the city down to the city center. Everyone in Sienna was very festive while we were there, two days before the event. The different supporters were singing their songs and parading around the city, wearing the colors of their horse.

Sienna was a party
Sienna was a party

The food in Sienna was excellent. We had the best cheese platter of the trip with many different types of cheeses. The local wild boar on the menu was great both as a stew and as a steak. The lasagna was entirely made from scratch and tasted fresh and flavorful.

Cheese platter in Sienna
Cheese platter in Sienna

Sienna, like many of the towns around here has huge churches all over the place. Italy seems to be a pretty religious country, both historically and currently. The detail and construction of the churches here are immense. Building a church like this in the present day would cost billions of dollars if you could even find enough craftsmen to do all the stone/metal/wood work.

Churches all over
Churches all over

The night after Sienna was spent back at the villa with the family. I was messing around with some night photography and caught a shooting star on camera. It’s not the best shot of the group but it’s obligatorily included due to the shooting star.

Villa Serena under the night sky
Villa Serena under the night sky

The next day we spent in Assisi. Assisi is a nice town. Like many of the towns in the area there are shops, restaurants, cafes, gelato stores, and beautiful things to see. The people of Italy were very friendly and Assisi was no exception. Assisi seems to have more ornate churches per such a small area than anywhere else. Most famous is the church where Saint Francis of Assisi’s tomb is. There were no photographs of the church or tomb allowed and I respected it. If you want to see either just head over to Google. The church is gorgeous and the tomb is hard to grasp. Italy has so much history all over and it’s just amazing to see the tomb of such a historical figure from almost a thousand years ago.

Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi
Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

After we got out of the church we strolled around the town. There was a pretty sweet car parked outside of the church and I grabbed a picture.

Whippin like Gatsby
Whippin like Gatsby

We grabbed lunch and looked out for some desert in the town. I was tempted by massive meringues, which are the size of your head but settled on a smaller size, which tasted great. I love the sweets and dessert stores that they have all over the place. The quality of the treats is great.

Pick a treat, any treat
Pick a treat, any treat

Like many of the towns, Assisi is picture perfect. The towns really shoot themselves. It would be hard to mess up taking great pictures of these places.

Assisi is gorgeous
Assisi is gorgeous

Here’s a shot of most of the crew minus one aunt and uncle set. It was a little hard to get all 13 people in one place at the same time throughout the trip but when we were all together it was a great time. We kept each other laughing and lifted spirits when the frustrations of travel crept in. I’ll definitely miss everyone when it’s just my lady and I traveling around.

Most of the fam
Most of the fam

After Assisi some of us went off to Castiglione del Lago. It’s a great little town with a castle, which was fun to explore. There are great views of the lake and mountains throughout the town. There’s even a place that sells homemade local craft beers, which was a nice surprise for an Italian town where you normally order beer not by brand but by asking for a “beer”.

Top of the fort at Castiglione del Lago
Top of the fort at Castiglione del Lago

The delicious food that we were eating in the towns and countryside made its way into the villa’s dishes. On some nights people would cook for dinner. The night after Castiglione del Lago was finished off with a penne with vodka sauce. We had an assortment of classic Italian appetizers.

Inspired by local product
Inspired by local product

The next day we went on a wine tour of two wineries in Tuscany. It was nice to see the fields up close and watch the wine process from start to finish. The vineyards were beautiful.

Vineyards in Tuscany
Vineyards in Tuscany

Both wineries had a bunch of wine at various stages of the process.

A whole bunch of wine
A whole bunch of wine

The first winery had some dried meats, cheeses and breads to pair with the wines. I had my USA jersey on at this winery and met a young kid with a Belgium jersey on. He was giving me dirty looks but eventually we got to talking about the game. Him and his family were great people. We wished each other luck for the game. Unfortunately the luck would be on the side of the Belgians and the US would be knocked out of the World Cup later that night.

Wine tasting
Wine tasting

The second winery came with a full lunch tasting menu. This winery had some great food. It was all prepared on site by the cooking school that’s at the winery. Everything was made with fresh ingredients that were either from the winery or in the local area.

Menu for wine pairing
Menu for wine pairing

We got back to the villa and hung out with everyone. We caught the sunset, which was as gorgeous as any of the nights at the villa.

View from the villa
View from the villa

We had another dish that was cooked up at the villa, which was a tremendous shrimp, mussel, and clam pasta. It was excellent. I didn’t expect the clams to be anything special but they were incredibly flavorful. The mussels were nice and fresh and the shrimp were good as well. I just loved eating at the villa because the food was inspired by the local product and it was hard to differentiate the dishes from what we were eating out in the towns. The night was spent cheering on the US soccer team, even thought they couldn’t get through to the next round.

Cooked at the villa
Cooked at the villa

We woke up early the next day to catch a train to Florence. Florence is gorgeous. It’s a great city and has some great shops. All of the big Italian brands are present as well as many Italian leather stores.

Florence is gorgeous
Florence is gorgeous

We went to the Uffizi Museum to see some amazing artwork. The Uffizi has many great pieces of art. I especially loved all of the painted ceilings. I thought they were excellent.

Ceilings at the Uffizi Gallery
Ceilings at the Uffizi Gallery

There were many masterpieces throughout the museum such as this one by Leonardo da Vinci.

Leonardo da Vinci at the Uffizi
Leonardo da Vinci at the Uffizi

The statues at the museum are some of the best in the world. I wish I was able to appreciate them more but statues to me are a little repetitive and don’t evoke too much emotion. It’s a little annoying because a tremendous amount of work and skill went into the piece and I just can’t proportionally admire it.

Statues at the Uffizi
Statues at the Uffizi

The ceilings of the place were maybe my favorite part of the Uffizi.

I love these ceilings
I love these ceilings

Some of the artwork is just stunning. There are some huge paintings in the museum.

This painting was enormous
This painting was enormous

After we got back from Florence we stopped at a local restaurant, which had delicious homemade food. The gnocchi was excellent and I grabbed a cuttlefish dish which seemed to appear on several of the menus in the area. The cuttlefish was pretty excellent and I would get it again.

The next day we ventured off to Cortona.

Cortona was a nice little town
Cortona was a nice little town

It was a small town in the country that had very excellent food. I went for quail eggs with truffles and a duck dish, both of which were excellent. We spent the day strolling around and taking in the views.

Taking in the sights
Taking in the sights

The vistas from Cortona were great like many of the hillside towns in Italy. The contrast in colors from up top is excellent. A lot of times the views that you see are like a painting.

The views are tremendous
The views are tremendous

We got back to the villa and went for a stroll around. The fields of wheat and sunflower are beautiful to walk past.

Sunflower fields in Umbria
Sunflower fields in Umbria

On the final day before we left we went to another small town of Citta Della Pieve. It was scenic and beautiful.

Picturesque town
Picturesque town

As with all of the other places we went to the food was incredible. I got a liver pate, which was the best dish that I had on the whole trip.

Liver pate was the best dish
Liver pate was the best dish

After strolling around Citta Della Pieve we went to Castiglione del Lago again for one final dinner before heading back to the villa. We said our goodbyes to the family who all had to be up early for flights back home and ventured off to bed for the night.

For the next two and a half weeks it will be my lady and I traveling around France, Spain, and Switzerland. I’m sad to say goodbye to everyone and to Italy but very excited for what the rest of the trip has in store.

Ciao!

I just landed in Rome!

The day finally was here. I was packed and heading to Rome to start my 45 day trip around Europe. The night before I felt a pretty awesome high, a euphoric blend of happiness, excitement, and success. It’s a feeling that I’ve felt only a few times in my life and is hard to explain. It’s been a dream of mine to travel and see Europe and I was on my way.

I was supposed to fly from JFK to Dusseldorf and then to Rome. But the flight to Dusseldorf was delayed for two hours, causing me to miss my connection. The fastest way in to Rome was then to go to Munich and then into Rome. I had to grab my bags and go through the check-in process again so while I had access to my bag I grabbed my USA jersey and threw it on. I definitely made myself a target wearing a USA jersey in Germany on the day the two were playing in a World Cup match and I rightly got my share of dirty looks from the Germans sprinkled in with “Go USA” from a couple American soccer fans.

The flight to Munich was fine and so was the flight to Rome. I was in and out of sleep on what was starting to feel like an endless journey but I eventually grabbed my bags in Rome and grabbed a taxi to the Pantheon, where my hotel was next to. I was planning on catching the USA game out in Italy since it was on at 6 PM Rome time and I was supposed to get in at 10:30 AM, but I had to settle for following the game on my phone, getting to my hotel just as it ended in a 1-0 loss which was fine as the US was able to advance out of a very difficult group.

My hotel was the Pantheon View Bed and Breakfast and it was way above my expectations. Don’t let the fancy name fool you; it was pretty much the cheapest place I could find in the area. But I was greeted by a very nice lady with a glass of champagne.

Welcome to Rome
Welcome to Rome

And the room came with a balcony, which had a nice view.

View from my Balcony at Pantheon B&B
View from my Balcony at Pantheon B&B

I met up with my girlfriend’s family, and grabbed some dinner that night. The food in Rome can be tremendous; generally simple dishes that are executed with freshness and flavor. The prosciutto, buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes, king prawns, and some red wine made for a delicious first meal.

Prosciutto and Buffalo Mozzarella
Prosciutto and Buffalo Mozzarella

Finished dinner with an espresso, which was very rich. There was a gelato store next door and so I had to go with the pistachio and hazelnut.

Gelato in Rome
Gelato in Rome

The rest of the night was spend strolling around and catching the World Cup matches to find out who the US would be playing. The game was accompanied with some red wine. It was an early night as we had a lot of exploring to do the next day.

The Pantheon was a minute walk from the hotel. The area around the Pantheon has some good restaurants and places to hang out at. It’s a good place to people watch.

Pantheon is a minute walk from the room
Pantheon is a minute walk from the room

We hopped a taxi to the Coliseum for our tour, which was given by a very knowledgeable lady who was a history teacher. She was brilliant and a joy to have for our tours of Rome. Like many things in a city with history that spans thousands of years, the Coliseum was under construction. If the people who built Giants Stadium built the Coliseum, this is what it would look like.

Coliseum a la Giants Stadium
Coliseum a la Giants Stadium

The Coliseum is an engineering marvel. Built in only 8 years the size, importance, and beauty of the building is all around you on the tour. I learned a lot on the tour and won’t bore you with the details but it’s an amazing place.

The interior of the Coliseum
The interior of the Coliseum

After the Coliseum we walked around some more ancient Roman ruins. Our tour guide had before/after pictures of the area so it was remarkable to see what the place used to look like. The scope and scale of the history in the area is incomprehensible. Just walking a couple feet and there is some new remarkable fact. The history of Rome is layered upon the same space. The Coliseum sits on top of the location of where Nero’s palace used to be. A couple feet further is the hill of where the legend of the founding of Rome took place.

Statues of the Vestal Virgins
Statues of the Vestal Virgins

After touring the area we stopped for some lunch. We also grabbed coffee and a pastry at this little cafe. Freshness, quality, and simplicity are strongly represented in all good Italian food, including desert and drinks.

Lots of great treats throughout the streets
Lots of great treats throughout the streets

After lunch we went to the Vatican to see some more amazing sites. We weren’t allowed to take pictures in the Sistine Chapel, which I respected. There is no need for me to take pictures of it as you can find them all on Google. It was nice to see Michelangelo’s work on display and to see the world-renowned painting of the creation of man in person. It’s the picture where God is reaching out to touch man and the fingers are just almost touching. What I liked more than the Sistine Chapel was the hallway that we saw before going in to the Sistine Chapel. The ceiling is painted with beautiful gold paintings and the walls are covered which some brilliantly designed maps, which for the time were a marvel.

The gold hall of maps before the Sistine Chapel
The gold hall of maps before the Sistine Chapel

We ventured out in Saint Peter’s Square. It was pretty cool to see where the Pope speaks from every week and the chimney with the smoke that announces whether the new pope has been selected or not.

Saint Peter's Square
Saint Peter’s Square

Saint Peter’s is stunning in size and detail. It’s the biggest church in the world. It has some tremendous artwork inside.

The size and scale is tremendous
The size and scale is tremendous

Here is a world-renowned Michelangelo sculpture. His work is impressive to see. It’s in another league when you compare it to the other work that you see on display pretty much anywhere.

Michelangelo's Pieta
Michelangelo’s Pieta

We walked past the tomb of Pope John Paul II. I had to take this picture for my grandmas because they were unsure of where he was buried. He’s off to the right when you walk through the main entrance.

Pope John Paul II's tomb
Pope John Paul II’s tomb

There’s a mummy of Pope Innocent XI in the church, which is amazing. The history and holiness of Rome and the Vatican can be spooky at times.

Body of Pope Innocent XI
Body of Pope Innocent XI

In the church is a statue of Saint Longinus. He’s the soldier who pierced Jesus when he was on the cross. Apparently a tip of the spear is in the column above the statue, behind the angel sculpture on the little balcony above the statue. My grandma told me many times that if I ever made it to Rome that I would have to see the statue. Longin is my grandfather’s name so it was critical that I saw this statue. The tour was over but I asked the tour guide where I could find this statue and she helped me to see it. It was an amazing moment for me to see that statue that I heard my grandma talk about so much. My grandma’s husband was very important to her and my grandfather is very important to me too. I never knew the man but I wish I had. Seeing the statue was very profound for me and I teared up a little when the tour guide asked me why the statue was important to me and I explained the story to her.

Saint Longinus
Saint Longinus

After the tour was over we left Saint Peter’s. We stopped in gift stores because I wanted to look for a gift for my grandmas. Nothing really stuck out. Both of my grandmas have been to Rome and to Saint Peter’s. My one grandma has met Pope John Paul II two times and she gave me a rosary that was blessed by him. They’ve seen it and done it all. There’s nothing there that I can buy them that would have any significant meaning really so I opted to not get anything. I’ll keep an eye out to see if I can score something maybe from the Notre Dame in France or something from somewhere else. But I really just want to sit with them and show them pictures and we can compare our trips to Rome, maybe over an espresso.

Leaving Saint Peter's
Leaving Saint Peter’s

We walked back to the hotel, stopping for a Peroni. We grabbed dinner at this awesome Italian restaurant called Santo Padre. They kept bringing out all of these appetizers and pasta dishes and deserts until we couldn’t eat any more. There were many dishes that tasted so good; among them were the roasted peppers, an eggless carbonera, and oxtail pasta.

After dinner we went back to the area around the Pantheon and grabbed some drinks. This is a view from the table of the place that we grabbed drinks at.

Grabbing drinks near the Pantheon
Grabbing drinks near the Pantheon

After another night’s sleep, it was off to the airport to get rental cars and head to the villa. My girlfriend and I stopped at a gas station for food and had delicious pizza. They had all sorts of fresh food there like pastas and salads and chicken, and as they were leaving they brought out some fresh tortellini pasta which looked so good. It’s a major contrast from the food in the United States, where if you go out to a restaurant you may find yourself eating a frozen meal.

We drove out to the villa that we would be staying at for a week. It was a little tough to find but eventually we got here. This is a view from the backyard of the villa.

Our backyard
Our backyard

The villa is gorgeous inside. Definitely a nice place to be able to call home for a short while, and probably by far the nicest accommodations I’ll have on this trip.

Home for the next week
Home for the next week

There are flowers all over the place. There’s a groundskeeper who is working on the land throughout the day and a lady who has been helping us with things inside the house. She has baked some delicious cakes already.

Beautiful flowers all over
Beautiful flowers all over

We spent some time looking for a grocery store but they were all closed. For night we grabbed some brick oven pizza and spent time hanging out and having some pizza and wine.

Brick oven pizza in Italy
Brick oven pizza in Italy

Today we are off to Sienna and I’ll be hanging around the Italian countryside for the next few days. It will definitely be a nice and relaxing few days.

Until then, ciao!

Eurotrip Itinerary, 14 countries in 45 days

I’ve been planning my biggest trip to date and I’m pretty damn excited for it. I’ll be heading to Italy with my girlfriend’s family to hang out in a villa for ten days. After that I’m road tripping around Spain, France, Monaco, and Switzerland with my lady. And then I’m dropping her off and road tripping around Austria, Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Liechtenstein by myself. I’ve never been to Europe so I am ultra excited to be able to check out a good chunk of it. The itinerary looks like this.

With the fam, June 25th to July 5th:
Rome, Italy
Vatican City
Villa in San Fatucchio, Italy
Florence, Italy
Pisa, Italy

With my lady, July 5th to July 21st:
Genoa, Italy
Monte Carlo, Monaco
Nice, France
Marseille, France
Montpellier, France
Barcelona, Spain
Valencia, Spain
Ibiza, Spain
Madrid, Spain
San Sebastian, Spain
Bordeaux, France
Nantes, France
Paris, France
Lyon, France
Geneva, Switzerland
Basel, Switzerland
Zurich, Switzerland
Lake Lucern, Switzerland
Interlaken, Switzerland
Wengen, Switzerland
Andermatt, Switzerland
Zermatt, Switzerland
Milan, Italy

All by my myself, July 21st to August 7th:
Venice, Italy
Innsbruck, Austria
Salzburg, Austria
Berlin, Germany
Nuremberg, Germany
Frankfurt, Germany
Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
Cologne, Germany
Dusseldorf, Germany
Brussels, Belgium
Antwerp, Belgium
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Hamburg, Germany
Copenhagen, Denmark
Gothenburg, Sweden
Oslo, Norway
Stockholm, Sweden
Malmo, Sweden
Bremen, Germany
Berlin, Germany
Leipzig, Germany
Stuttgart, Germany
Vaduz, Liechtenstein

The itinerary with my girlfriend and her family is pretty nailed down. The itinerary when I am by myself probably will see a little reworking but I am mostly going to stick with that route.

All together it’s 14 countries in 45 days in Europe. I cannot wait.

USA ROAD TRIP, Video and concluding remarks

Video from the trip is done! Check out some of the highlights from the trip in this video.

Huge props to my mate Jesse Nanton for going through all of the GoPro footage and composing an awesome original song to go with the video footage of this trip.

It was one hell of a trip. The grandiose plan was devised on a regular night while Mikey and I were hanging out. We decided to follow through and now have some memories that will last a lifetime. The final itinerary looks like this.

March 10: New Jersey. Cherokee, NC. Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Gatlinburg, TN
March 11: Knoxville, TN. Nashville, TN
March 12: Memphis, TN
March 13: New Orleans, LA
March 14: Houston, TX. Austin, TX
March 15: Austin, TX
March 16: San Antonio, TX. Roswell, NM
March 17: White Sands National Monument. Albuquerque, NM. Santa Fe, NM
March 18: Denver, CO, Lafayette, CO.
March 19: Rocky Mountain National Park
March 20: Boulder, CO. Lawrence, KS. Kansas City, MO
March 21: St Louis, MO
March 22: Louisville, KY. Magnolia, KY
March 23: Home

Rough route that we took
Rough route that we took

14 days
17 states (NJ, PA, MD, VA, TN, NC, MS, LA, TX, NM, CO, KS, MO, IL, IN, KY, WV)
6020.9 miles

6020.9 miles
6020.9 miles

A lot of time people hear of a trip like this and they think it’s impossible for them to do it because of time or money constraints. Sure getting two weeks off can be a little rough, but in half that time Mikey and I were able to make it from New Jersey all the way out to Roswell, New Mexico. And in only three days we were able to make it from Kansas City all the way back to New Jersey. You can definitely make time for an awesome adventure so don’t let that keep you cooped up.

As for the money, it didn’t end up costing a tremendous amount for what we were able to see and do. In the 14 days we slept in the car 4 times, stayed with people we knew three times, and checked out reviews online to get good deals on cheap places. Most were from $40-60 a night with only Austin and New Orleans being outside of that price. Gas is reasonable considering the cost of alternative travel options. If you don’t have a car you can score a cheap car rental price with unlimited miles. Grabbing a cooler and buying a bunch of good healthy food at the supermarket was great in many ways other than the low cost. It was fast and kept us fueled up. The hotels and motels always offered free ice to keep our stuff cool. When we went out to eat we usually went out for an awesome dinner. There’s a ton of great stuff to see in this country and a lot of it’s free or really cheap. The price break down looked something like this.

Gas: $630
Places to stay: $570
Food/Drink: $1100
Supermarket: $150
Admission/Misc: $300

Total: $2750

Per person: $1375
Per person per day: $98

I overestimated on most things because I’m too lazy to go through all of the receipts. You could definitely take this same trip spending a ton more or a ton less money depending on what you do or don’t do. Adding some more travelers would let you chop away some of those costs as well. I’d think the price is fair for a once in a lifetime trip that you’ll remember for the rest of your life.

If anyone has any questions, feel free to leave a comment and I will follow up with the answer. Let me know about what adventures you have planned. Best of luck!

USA ROAD TRIP, PART 5 OF 5 Kansas City, St Louis, Louisville, Home

The original destination was Kansas City but we were tipped off that the University of Kansas located in Lawrence might be a more fun place. Either way we had a long drive through Kansas ahead of us.

This is Kansas
This is Kansas

Driving in Kansas is terrible. I thought seeing the flatness and the open sky would be awesome, but it was brutal. It doesn’t change. We stopped for gas and a sandwich from the cooler and saluted the West. The more east we drove the sadder it became that the trip was wrapping up.

So long to the West
So long to the West

Eventually it turned to night which I was almost happy for just so that I didn’t have to see the same monotonous background for hour after hour. Many hundreds of miles later we finally made it to Lawrence. We were pretty tired but there was some good college basketball games finishing up, so we stopped in The Sandbar to watch the ending on the big screens. It looked like everyone knew each other here and everyone seemed completely wasted so I figured it would be wise to just keep to ourselves and watch the end of the games.

A couple minutes after sitting down we set up the GoPro to grab some video footage for our video. These girls to the left started asking us questions. “Are you recording for that video?” Umm. I have no idea what you’re talking about. “No, we’re from New Jersey, road tripping all around the country. We’re just stopping in here to catch the end of the basketball game and then we’re heading to Kansas City.” I’m not asking any questions because I don’t want any trouble. Out of nowhere, Paul Bunyan decides to jump on top of the table we’re sitting at, kicking a pint glass off the table in the process and plops down in between Mikey and I and these annoying girls. “Hi. I’m Paul Bunyan. This is my girlfriend. Who are you?” Alright, bro. “I’m Joe and this is Mikey and we’re from NJ and are road tripping.” “You’re from New Jersey, huh? Where at in New Jersey?” Now I’m in the middle of nowhere, USA, and someone’s asking me where in New Jersey I’m from. I’m pretty sure there are no places in NJ that people from outside of the state are familiar with. “I’m kind of by New Brunswick, nearby Rutgers.” “Oh. I have no idea about anything in New Jersey, but my buddy from the Army lives in Newark.” At this point all of Paul’s group of drunken bros are surrounding our table. I’m not too worried about it though. Mikey and I are ninjas and can dismantle this group with ease if we have to. “That’s cool. Newark is a little rough. I’ve been mugged in Newark, but there are some cool spots there.” Go Red Bulls, I’m thinking. “Cool.” Then Paul Bunyan and his group of mini-Paul Bunyan’s head to the bar to get some more drinks. I think they have a shot of the hour thing there where the bartender spins the wheel and whatever shot it lands on is sold for a discount. Whizzzz… tick, tick, tick. It lands on Fireball. Damn it, that’s just what Paul Bunyan needs.

We get back to watching the game. Of course it goes into overtime. Typical March Madness. “Has anyone ever told you that you look like Macklemore?” Omg, girl. Go buzz off. Stop instigating. “Oh yea, I get that a lot.” Which I don’t understand anyway since my hair and Macklemore’s hair are pretty different, so is our style of clothing and basically everything. The game finishes up and Mikey and I bee-line it for the door and hop in the car.

We head into Kansas City and drive around. It’s dead. There’s loud music playing from some club but there is no one around. We drive around some more and eventually make our way to a Wal-Mart for the night. It didn’t look like the safest place to spend the night so we left and headed eastward to St. Louis for another half hour or so to find a Wal-Mart that looks a little nicer. We knock right out.

When we wake up we make the drive out to St. Louis. We look for a place to stay. At the first place we get to the guy tries to tell us the rate is higher than the rate that I’m staring at on my phone. Alright. Well see ya. We go too another place that looks really sketchy. Nope. Finally we get to a Motel 6. It’s amazing. It must be some sort of flagship Motel 6. It’s three stories with an elevator and it looks like it’s brand new. Awesome. After freshening up, we’re off to St. Louis.

St. Louis is a neat town. The Gateway Arch looks pretty awesome as you drive in. Architecture like the Gateway Arch is great. There’s no purpose or need for it but it adds character to the city and generates a lot of awesomeness. The world needs more Gateway Arches.

One of the goals for the trip was to score some good bbq. St. Louis is definitely one of the top bbq places in the country. Pappy’s Smokehouse is the place to go for some good ribs. We got there and there was a huge line that wrapped around this side hallway of the building. It ends up being around a 40 minute wait. Wow, pretty busy we thought. The guy at the door said that it was a slow day. A lot of times you have to wait hours to get your food. After tasting those ribs I probably would wait in line forever for them.

Pappy's Smokehouse ribs and brisket
Pappy’s Smokehouse ribs and brisket

We order a rack of ribs, some brisket, sweet potato fries, and some potato salad. Everything is good but the ribs are amazing. They give you four different barbeque sauces that you can add and they are all pretty delicious. Man, those ribs were delicious. I could go for another rack just thinking about them.

One of the places that we heard was great to check out was the City Museum (thanks cuz!). You can’t really explain the place. It’s not what you think at all. It’s awesome. And you can’t really explain it. There’s an outside which is sort of like this playground for people of all ages, adults included. If you look at this picture you’ll see there’s a plane hanging in midair. You can climb up to the plane. Also in the picture you can see people climbing off the wing of the plane. They’re heading to this huge slide that circles around the outside. There’s stuff like this all over. The outside has this huge dodge ball pit that is total ruckus. The museum itself has a school bus hanging off of the edge which you can climb out onto. There are slides all over this place. It’s like you’re living a game of shoots and ladders.

City Museum, you just can't explain it
City Museum, you just can’t explain it

The inside is just as crazy. There’s this massive 10-story cave with all these crevices and tunnels and stuff. It’s huge. You can get lost in there. At the top is another slide that goes all the way down to the bottom. There’s a skate park inside that you can run around on. Rope swings. A human sized hamster wheel. Oh yea, a bar. There are actual museum things in there like old antiques too. And an aquarium. City Museum is a wild mish mash of eccentric things. It’s architecturally brilliant. I’ve never seen a place that could be enjoyed and appreciated by such a wide age range of people.

After hanging at the City Museum we strolled around town. Eventually we decided to check out Europe Night Club for some electronic dance music. I kind of never understood how to dance to EDM. I guess I’ll just always be a hip-hop head. The place was alright. Mikey and I threw down on the dance floor as best as we could. This really creepy kid was following me around the club so that was a little annoying. Seemed like he was having a pretty weird trip. We got out of there at close and headed back to our place and grabbed some good sleep for the drive to Kentucky.

The drive to Louisville was par for the course. We scoped out a place to get some good food and ended up choosing Hammerhead’s. Kind of lame that it was on the outskirts of town in the suburbs, but just as well. Louisville isn’t the best of towns. Nothing much to do there. Dinner at Hammerhead’s was good. I went with the Pork Belly Lettuce Tomato (PBLT) and Mikey got a burger. We also grabbed truffle fries which I thought were outstanding.

After dinner we drove around Louisville looking for a place to catch some more college basketball games. We ended up near the University of Louisville before deciding we were a little tired and just wanted to head out to my sister’s house in Magnolia. When we got there we had to wait around for a little because she was moving livestock with her boyfriend which was just as good with Mikey and I. We grabbed a nap in the car until they showed up. Mikey and I went right to bed and then we caught up with my sister and her boyfriend over breakfast buffet at the Iron Skillet buffet the next morning. On the way out we grabbed some Stage Planks, which are pretty mush just gingerbread cookies with a terrible name and product packaging.

Iron Skillet and Stage Planks
Iron Skillet and Stage Planks

We said our goodbyes and headed off for home. The drive home was fairly uneventful. We did run into the most dangerous situation of the trip. There was someone driving in our lane going in the opposite direction. They were in the left lane, we happened to be one lane over so we were alright. It was the sort of unexpected thing that your mind almost processes too late. Swerving out of the way of that car would have been disastrous.

Homeward bound
Homeward bound

As we got closer to home we made plans to meet up with some of the homies to share stories. We pulled up to a gas station right on the New Jersey border and I got out to pump my own gas (something I like to do way more than having it pumped for me like is required here in NJ) and the guy jumps over to me yelling that I can’t pump my own gas. “Oh. Are we in New Jersey?” “Yes. I’ll take it from here.”

After about another hour driving we were back in town. We grabbed a victory beer and some food and met up with some of the guys and told stories about the trip. All in all it was one hell of a trip. It kicked some serious ass. Video and details from the trip will be up soon!

USA ROAD TRIP, PART 4 OF 5 Denver, Lafayette, Rocky Mountain National Park, Boulder Colorado

Woke up in Santa Fe and had some dreadful coffee which was complimentary to the Motel 6 we were staying at. I couldn’t finish drinking it. But no worries, we were off to Colorado! We were thinking about maybe checking out Pike’s Peak or Garden of the Gods on the way up but it looked like we wouldn’t have time. The first place we stopped was Denver. We made our way over to Great Divide Brewing Company. Had to dodge a bum fight on the way there, but we got there safely.

Colorado has the best beer in the country
Colorado has the best beer in the country

Great Divide throws down with the beer that they make there. If you get a chance to have some, I recommend it. You just can’t beat the intense freshness and quality of a beer poured from a tap at the brewery where it was conceived.

Great Divide throws down
Great Divide throws down

Great Divide is my favorite brewery so I was pretty pumped to go through the samples with Mikey. His favorite was the Claymore Scotch Ale and mine was the Espresso Oak Aged Yeti.

Much beer, very Colorado
Much beer, very Colorado

After our quick stop in Denver, we were off to meet up with the family in Lafayette. They let us crash and provided great hospitality as always.

True champions
True champions

We went out and grabbed some grub at The Post Brewing Company (there are breweries everywhere in Colorado). It was nice to catch up with everyone but we had to get to bed a little early because everyone had work the next day.

When Mikey and I woke up the next morning we decided to check out Rocky Mountain National Park. But first I had to get a cup of coffee. Colorado throws down with their coffees so I knew I would be able to get that dreadful motel coffee taste out of my mouth. Upon recommendation from a local coffee expert (thanks Meliss!) we went to Proper Grounds Coffee Roasters. There’s a reason why this new shop has a 5.0 rating.

Fresh bean
Fresh bean

The beans are sourced from a variety of farms all around the world. Then they are roasted in house. Then they are crafted into whatever fine drink you like. I opted for a large coffee and a homemade pastry. Mikey skipped the coffee (for shame) but also went with a delicious bite. We discussed our plans to go into the Rockies over these delicious treats.

The shop is very open and creatively stimulating
The shop is very open and creatively stimulating

Before we bounced out of Proper Grounds, I fueled up on another cup for the road. There are a lot of places that we could have checked out but Rocky Mountain National Park is pretty unbeatable for a quick trip to the Denver/Boulder area. We ran into a little traffic on the roads because they were removing rocks and working on the roads that were damaged from the floods. We drove through Estes Park but didn’t have time to stop. We drove into Rocky Mountain National Park and were blown away. It was in beautiful form.

Hashtag no filter
Hashtag no filter

The park offers some amazing views, but catching a herd of grazing elk is tremendous. They don’t mind the cars or the camera. We could have stayed around and watched them for as long as we wanted to.

Beautiful creatures
Beautiful creatures

Onwards we went. Upwards we climbed. Stunning views greet you at every turn. Rocky Mountain National Park is small enough that you can see it in a day, but also big enough that you can get lost in it and explore new parts if you have more time to spend here.

About as high up as we could go
About as high up as we could go

The road was closed off at the top so we had to turn around, but even with the road closure you can still get pretty high up. The views are just great up there.

We had to get out of the park because we had a kickball date for later on that night. After having a rough couple seasons, the team started off the year with a couple wins. It was up to Mikey and I to keep the team undefeated. Road closures slowed us down a little but we got to the house on time. It’s a drinking league which means you can drink beers in the dugout, so we stopped at Avery Brewing Company to grab a bite and a brew before the game. Had a banh mi sandwich which was delicious and a sampler of a few beers. The Chocolate Mint Stout is worth a sip and the Eremita VI is worth a glass. Game time was approaching so we got out of Avery and went to the field.

Mikey and I were pumped for this game ever since we heard about it back when we were in Austin. Finally we were here, ready to keep the undefeated streak alive. The game was close. Hits and runs were hard to come by. 1-0. 1-1. Then we went down 2-1. You had to fight for everything. Everyone on our team was kicking ass and making great plays though.

What a catch cousin Amy
What a catch cousin Amy

Eventually we tied it 2-2. Extra innings. Then another inning. Things getting sticky. Getting out of sticky situations. Yeesh. Bottom of the 9th (game was only supposed to go to 6) and we have a runner on 3rd. A little dribbler is hit and our guy sprints for home. Play at the plate. And he’s safe! We finally were able to taste that sweet, sweet victory in extra innings and won 3-2.

I was surprised at how well setup the league was. There was an ump and a scoreboard and everything. But mostly the league is about having fun. Co-ed drinking kickball is something that is very Colorado and I was happy to experience it.

We got back to the house and hung out for a little bit. Mikey and I said our goodbyes to everyone that night before we went to bed since they all had to be up early for work the next morning. We would be heading due east the next morning as our trip slowly was starting to wind down.

Before we left the next morning, we stopped in Boulder to hang out at the Pearl Street Mall. We grabbed some delicious Colorado coffee and checked out the shops. We took part in a silent disco at University of Colorado (you put earphones on and listen to whatever music you want to and dance in an open field on the campus). Stuff like this happened.

Probably should have picked this up
Probably should have picked this up

Some of the shops out here are tremendous. I was pretty tempted to buy a magic wand. The craftsmanship on these wands is great. They are all individually made. Seemed like a good deal to be able to use magical powers in exchange for $200 but I couldn’t justify it and kept the money in my wallet.

The wand chooses the wizard, Mr. Potter
The wand chooses the wizard, Mr. Potter

And like that, we were off. Eastward we went. Slowly making our way home.