Small Updates While I Wait Patiently

2016 has been pretty slow when it comes to home improvements. We’re in super-saving mode in preparing for a new kitchen and bathroom which is why we aren’t going to Europe this year (…boohoo, I know). This also means, no other décor changes should happen until we at least have our plans in place.

These are times when I wish I had a patient bone in my body. Is just one too much to ask for?

One thing that couldn’t wait though, was a change to the area just inside the front door. Every single day this was a disaster. We used the coat tree I bought at Ikea when I first moved to DC, combined with a side table we didn’t know where else to put, in an attempt to organize the area that should be a closet.

As you can see, even if it was at its cleanest, it would have been a mess. Coat trees, while cute in theory are just an eyesore. Kyle was out of town for a weekend this spring, giving me the opportunity to at least start changing things up – since he wouldn’t be around to tell me no…

Before:
Untitled   After:

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The wood carving is from my grandparent’s house, and until I started playing around didn’t know where to put it. The two images are small pieces of art Grandma and Grandpa had picked up in Paris on one of their travels. Putting them right where I’ll see them each day, reminds me of my grandparents and our shared love to travel.

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Copenhagen on No Sleep

20140406-180817.jpg After too many years I finally went to visit my friend Jana in her new home – Copenhagen! Now that KZ and I are “seasoned travelers” we didn’t miss a beat when flights went on sale.

Like we did when we went to Rome, we took an overnight flight so we’d wake up in our final destination. Unfortunately, the prior experience had taught us nothing because we stayed up ALL night watching the on-demand movies and talking… just like we had done on our way to Italy.

The sleepless night however was well worth it to see the sunrise on the horizon out the plane window. If that doesn’t keep you up, I don’t know what would.

20140406-180849.jpgAnyhoo, day 1 of Copenhagen was not to be missed with wasted time sleeping so we hit the road as soon as we dropped our bags at Jana’s… so the first thing we saw was this gorgeous church with a steeple that MUST be climbed immediately. Tell me you wouldn’t look at this church and make another choice?

DSC_2039*The stairs to the top:

DSC_2043*Oh and there was about a dozen giant bells that decided to ring the second we got right next to them (lovely right?) – good thing they have this sign and light that blinks when they’re going off – you know, just in case you didn’t know what that sound was. 
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The views were spectacular and completely worth the slight loss of hearing and leg burn!DSC_2051* DSC_2055 DSC_2056** DSC_2058* DSC_2062 DSC_2068 DSC_2070*

Back on the ground we were treated with a postcard worthy day in this lovely city. The entire city has canals running through it, full of boats and swans.

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Apparently marching bands are common to see just marching around town, we followed this band for a little while until they brought us to a castle that we definitely needed to see.

DSC_2105* DSC_2106* DSC_2115 DSC_2121The Rosenborg Castle was used by Danish regents as a royal residence until around 1710, today it is a museum of royal items and is used as a vault for the crown jewels. The entire museum is void of information on the artifacts, if you want to know what you’re looking at, you’d have to purchase a pretty expensive guidebook. For this reason, I have no descriptions of what these things are, but you can reasonably assume they’re a) royal something and b) old.

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Lacking sleep and running purely on a cocktail of coffee and adrenaline, this is the point where I started to get a little goofy. This is me, trying to pet the lions guarding the royal throne. The docent started coming after me though, so I didn’t actually get a pet in. Disappointing.
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crown jewels DSC_2160 DSC_2162 DSC_2164At this point it was time for some Danish Dogs and a nap. Next post will be our day2 which was full of all the major sites around Copenhagen. 
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Google Glass + Art @ National Portrait Gallery

When I see the opportunity to try out new technology, it’s not a hard sell to get me in line.  This weekend only at the National Portrait Gallery is a special piece that is pretty neat on it’s own, but you can put on Google Glasses for an interactive experience with the art.

Here is a little more on the art (excerpted from the National Portrait Gallery site):

Portrait of America, from David Datuna’s “Viewpoint of Billions” series, is a 12-foot multimedia American flag covered in hundreds of eyeglass lenses. Try on Google Glass and explore historical and contemporary figures from American culture embedded in the artwork. Videos and interactive experiences are activated by different images in the piece and by your voice!

After an hour and a half waiting in line, we geared-up and took advantage of our 3 minute viewing time.  When you put on the GG and look through the lenses on the art piece you can see little pictures and news clippings from various famous Americans (I saw JFK, Lady Gaga, George Washington…) with your own eye, and those photos trigger little videos to play through the GG (like a JFK campaign video, and a Lady Gaga performance clip).

Below are a few photos from the experience, unfortunately the last day it is in DC is today – but there are hopes (according to their PR rep I tried to BFF) to take the “show on the road” to other cities.

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20140217-104039.jpg20140217-104002.jpg My only real gripe with the event is that 3 minutes was not nearly enough time to spend with the piece. It took about a minute to figure out the Google Glasses (probably more for those a little less tech-savvy). By the time I got into the groove with navigating the piece I was being shuffled out.

Read more about the piece and artist (and experience the art from those viewing it) by visiting the artist’s site atwww.datuna.com 

An Afternoon in Vatican City

Our last stop on the trip was back in Rome for a day in Vatican City, after our drive from San Gimignano. We tried to get into the Vatican on our first day in Rome, but with hour+ long waits to just get into the walls, we decided to try again on our way back. Thankfully, we got very lucky and were able to walk RIGHT IN without any line at all (for the record this was mid-October, mid-day, on a Friday).

We were pleasantly surprised by how modern the Vatican Museum was, and quite disappointed by how little information there was available for visitors. You must pay to get in, which is understandable, however a map is not included in that fee. A map was quite expensive (at least the ones we found) but thankfully Rick Steves’ Rome 2013 guide was more than a capable guide for us, and a trusted travel companion by this point in our trip.

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The Vatican Museum is huge. Had we more time and energy, and maybe interest in art, we certainly could have spent the day in there. I think I was expecting more religious relics to be housed in the museum, but it was mostly an art museum, with rooms and hallways just packed with statues and paintings and murals.  Below I’ve included just a small fraction, but you’ll get the picture.

Disclaimer: for one reason or another Kyle gave me camera-duty for the day, so we’ve got quite a lot of photos of art to share from the Vatican Museum. These may not be SFW…

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Remind me offline to tell you about the fig leaves on the male parts. It’s a great story.

Prior to making it into the Sistine Chapel, the “main event” I’ll call it, there was the LONGEST map hallway. We spent a good 45 minutes in here. I left it at one point to find the bathroom and came back to Kyle only about 15 feet from where I had left him.

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The stairs out of the museum were quite interesting, and then there was me back outside of the big doors we had to get in through (which were by this point closed and locked for the day). Since we completely missed a secret passageway from the Sistine Chapel to Saint Peter’s Basilica, we now had to walk all the way around the city to get there.

DSC_1205 DSC_1229The line to get in was understandably ridiculous. So, we instead decided to just take a few photos of the outside as the sun set and we waited for dinnertime.  But then, something strange happened – the line went away! It was still moving into the basilica, so we hopped in.

We have at least 100 photos of the inside of St. Peter’s Basilica, below are just a handful. I really just wish the photos could do this justice, everything in here was so big, you couldn’t do much but stand in awe.

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And with that, I conclude our posts from Italy! I might decide to share a few more travel-points soon with photos that didn’t fit, but for the most part that was our entire trip.

We loved traveling abroad so much we’ve already got another one on the calendar – and it’s soon! I’ve had more than a handful of friends (one of which we’re going to visit) warn us that travel is addicting, I think they’re right.

Florence in Two Days: Day 1

I couldn’t say enough times how perfect the location of San Gimignano was in Tuscany for taking day-trips, we were only about an hour outside of Florence – and we took advantage of this two days in a row during the week.

Florence was b-e-a-utiful, and there was so much to be seen and done we definitely could not have conquered the city in just the two days we had there. Thankfully, Kyle did his research and had for us two Firenze (Florence) Cards, which proved to be worth every penny and saved us a countless amount of time. The Firenze Card gave us access to almost all of the museums and sites with pre-paid admissions (they aren’t free like museums in DC) and let us skip the lines – if we did not have one, it would have been impossible to see and do all of what we were able to.

We parked the car outside the city walls, and walked into Florence over the Ponte Vecchio – which is an old bridge with stores along it, and was very crowded and a bit underwhelming (or overhyped) in my opinion. Regardless, there were some great views.

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The main piazza (from what I could tell was the main one), Piazza della Signoria, was outside of a fortress/palace/town hall, the Palazzo Vecchio, and displayed a large number of sculptures. The two below are my favorite, the one on the left, I believe according to Rick Steves, is one of the first pieces of art made to be viewed at any angle. The fountain on the right, I know nothing about, but I love the attitude in his face.

Piazza della Signoria Loggia dei Lanzi collage

Inside the fortress/palace/town hall, the Palazzo Vecchio, was more art featuring naked men (wahoo!), maps, and history of Italy and Florence. The sculpture below represents the triumph of Florence over Siena (thanks again, Rick Steves), however I think it just looks hilarious and confusing. Palazzo Vecchio - Florence over SienaPalazzo Vecchio Map Room

If you’ve been following the blog, you’ll recognize the style of the outside of the cathedral in Florence, it looks quite similar to the Duomo in Siena, Siena had built theirs to compete with Florence.  The inside, however, is not as decorative. Quite plain in comparison to Siena’s “cover every inch” decorating philosophy.
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We didn’t do any shopping in Florence at all, however there were quite a lot of stores (and adorable guard dogs). Florence shopping pup DSC_0860

As the museums were closing that evening, we walked along the river and scaled a very steep hill (maybe a mile high), with a fresh pizza and bottle of wine, in order to watch the sun set over the city. It was crowded up there, and we were sweaty from the climb, but it was worth it.   DSC_0878 DSC_0879 DSC_0887 DSC_0891 DSC_0894 DSC_0904 DSC_0906

I know I was there, and I took the photos, but I’m even now still in disbelief over how beautiful this city was. Anyone booking a flight to Florence right now? Take me with you!!