Art Installations at Discovery Green

For the past few years, Discovery Green in downtown Houston has supported a variety of art installations. Enchanted Promenade is a collection of giant peony bouquets lit up by color-changing LEDs.  The Enchanted Promenade is on view until February 23, 2017, so be sure to go check it out before its gone!

enchanted promenade discovery green houston
enchanted promenade discovery green houston
enchanted promenade discovery green houston

Before the Super Bowl came into town, Discovery Green housed another installation. It was called Firmament by Christopher Schardt, who is known for his art installations at Burning Man.  Firmament was a large canopy of LED lights that continuously changed along with a musical track. 

firmament discovery green houston
firmament discovery green houston

There's always something good at Discovery Green.  Be sure to check back in with Discovery Green's website to see what their latest installations are!

Rain by Magdalena Fernandez at the Houston Cistern

The the Museum of Fine Arts Houston and the Buffalo Bayou Partnership came together and organized the very first art installation in the Houston Cistern.  If you're new to my blog or are unfamiliar with the Cistern, you can see photos of it here in my previous post.  

Rain by Magdalena Fernandez consists of a light show that is projected throughout the entire space with an acoustic soundtrack that is meant to mimic the sounds of a rain shower.  It runs on a loop and the tour takes you around the outer perimeter of the Cistern to get different view points as you walk around.  

This seems to be the first of a series of changing art installations in the Cistern and I'm excited to see what's to come in the future.  Rain is on view until June 4th.  If you go on a Thursday, admission is free so be sure to reserve your tickets to make sure you save a spot!

magdalena fernandez rain at the houston cistern
magdalena fernandez rain at the houston cistern
magdalena fernandez rain at the houston cistern
magdalena fernandez rain at the houston cistern
magdalena fernandez at the houston cistern
magdalena fernandez rain at the houston cistern

Sunset from the Köln Triangle

For this post, I'm going to do something a little different.  I was recently approached by SleekLens.com to try out their Through The Woods workflow for landscapes.  I used this new workflow of the stackable presets for this set of photos.  Check out the pictures and I'll have my review of these presets below.

While we were in Cologne, we looked for the best place to get a city view and the Köln Triangle Panorama popped up in our search.  It is an observation deck on the 29th floor of the Köln Triangle where you get a great panoramic view of the surrounding city.  Up at the top, the main focal point of the city is the Cologne Cathedral and the Rhine River.  We picked a spot to sit down and just watched the sunset.

koln triangle cologne germany
koln triangle cologne germany
koln triangle cologne germany sunset
koln triangle cologne germany
koln triangle cologne germany
All of the other photographers were camped out for the sunset

All of the other photographers were camped out for the sunset

Before the sun fully set, we headed down by the river to check out the view of the Hohenzollern Bridge.

cologne germany
Hohenzollern Bridge cologne germany rhine river
Hohenzollern Bridge cologne germany rhine river
Hohenzollern bridge cologne germany
Great St. Martin Church

Great St. Martin Church

cologne cathedral germany
cologne cathedral germany
cologne cathedral germany

Using the Through the Woods presets was a little bit of a deviation from my normal workflow, but it was very quick and easy to use.  Just like any other preset, it always takes a little bit of adjustment to get the images to how you want them.  At times, they did tend to be a bit over saturated for my tastes, but it was easily correctible and allowed me to edit this batch of photos very quickly.

SleekLens.com does a great job with their presets and they have quite a few different sets of workflows.  You can check out their entire collection here, and their services here.  Depending on what types of photos you are editing, you can be sure to find one that fits your style.  

Holiday Family Portrait Session

I did a quick session with my sister-in-law, her husband, and baby nephew for their Christmas cards.  It was a beautiful day and it was fun watching the little guy discover the magic of Christmas.  Everything was new to him...the lights, tree, decorations.  The purest form of awe and wonder.  Glad I was able to capture these moments!

holcombe christmas
holcombe family christmas
braxton christmas
christmas family portrait
braxton christmas
family baby christmas tree lights
christmas family baby

The Cologne Cathedral

After our adventures in Amsterdam, we took a high-speed train to Cologne, Germany (approximately 3 hours, one-way).  The most well-known site in Cologne is the Cologne Cathedral, which is the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe. Construction began in 1248 and it was finally completed in 1880.  During World War II, the cathedral survived 14 hits by aerial bombs. 

cologne cathedral germany
cologne cathedral germany
cologne germany cathedral
cologne germany cathedral
cologne germany cathedral
cologne germany cathedral
cologne germany cathedral
cologne germany cathedral
cologne germany cathedral
cologne germany cathedral
The steep spiral staircase leading up to the top of the Cologne Cathedral.

The steep spiral staircase leading up to the top of the Cologne Cathedral.

Inside of the bell tower

Inside of the bell tower

cologne cathedral germany
Quite noisy and loud if you are up there while the bells are playing

Quite noisy and loud if you are up there while the bells are playing

The last set of stairs up to the top of the Cologne Cathedral (533 steps total)

The last set of stairs up to the top of the Cologne Cathedral (533 steps total)

cologne cathedral germany
cologne cathedral germany
View from the top of the Cathedral

View from the top of the Cathedral

View from the top of the Cathedral

View from the top of the Cathedral

cologne cathedral germany
cologne cathedral germany
cologne cathedral germany
cologne cathedral germany
cologne cathedral germany

Amsterdam Food and Arts

On our last full day in Amsterdam, we took it really easy.  We spent the day wandering around the city, no plan or agenda in mind.  Our first stop was at a bakery to grab some pastries and coffee before we stumbled upon the FOAM Photography Museum.  The FOAM building is located on the Keizersgracht canal and the building dates back to the 1800s.   FOAM usually has four exhibits on display at any time. 

foam photography museum amsterdam
Part 1 of a trilogy (Night Soil) by Melanie Bonajo.  A semi-documentary film that "looks at the healing effect of the hallucinatory herbal drug Ayahuasca- used in the Amazon rainforest for a thousand years." 

Part 1 of a trilogy (Night Soil) by Melanie Bonajo.  A semi-documentary film that "looks at the healing effect of the hallucinatory herbal drug Ayahuasca- used in the Amazon rainforest for a thousand years." 

amsterdam foam photography museum
amsterdam foam photography museum
A small part of the large exhibit by Ai Weiwei, a political refugee who lived under constant government surveillance.

A small part of the large exhibit by Ai Weiwei, a political refugee who lived under constant government surveillance.

Inside the FOAM museum

Inside the FOAM museum

Small cafe balconies overlooking the canal

Small cafe balconies overlooking the canal

amsterdam
Raw herring sandwich; a popular snack with the Dutch for over 600 years

Raw herring sandwich; a popular snack with the Dutch for over 600 years

amsterdam
A farmer's market with fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and cheeses, freshly baked goods, and flowers.

A farmer's market with fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and cheeses, freshly baked goods, and flowers.

The Red Light District (a somewhat innocent and slightly charming place during the day, different story at night)

The Red Light District (a somewhat innocent and slightly charming place during the day, different story at night)

Alley in the Red Light District

Alley in the Red Light District

Canal near the Old Church (Oude Kerk, not pictured), which is 800 years old.  It is Amsterdam's oldest building and church.

Canal near the Old Church (Oude Kerk, not pictured), which is 800 years old.  It is Amsterdam's oldest building and church.

 The Upstairs Pancake House is a quirky little restaurant.  It is the smallest restaurant in Europe with only 4 tables.  Luckily, we were able to make a reservation for the same day (we arrived around 11am, our reservation was for 3pm).

 The Upstairs Pancake House is a quirky little restaurant.  It is the smallest restaurant in Europe with only 4 tables.  Luckily, we were able to make a reservation for the same day (we arrived around 11am, our reservation was for 3pm).

The building to The Upstairs Pancake House dates back to the 16th century, so the staircase is very steep.

The building to The Upstairs Pancake House dates back to the 16th century, so the staircase is very steep.

Two out of the four tables in the entire restaurant; upside down teapots hang from the ceiling of The Upstairs Pancake House.

Two out of the four tables in the entire restaurant; upside down teapots hang from the ceiling of The Upstairs Pancake House.

Dutch pancakes are very thin, almost crepe-like.  This is a savory one; the bacon, cheese, and ginger pancake.

Dutch pancakes are very thin, almost crepe-like.  This is a savory one; the bacon, cheese, and ginger pancake.

A sweet pancake with bananas, coconut, and cream

A sweet pancake with bananas, coconut, and cream

If you happen to be walking around Leidseplein late at night, you'll be happy to know that FEBO will be open and waiting for you. 

If you happen to be walking around Leidseplein late at night, you'll be happy to know that FEBO will be open and waiting for you. 

A wall of vending machines filled with late-night comfort food.  Each item costs around 1.60 euros - 3 euros.  Simply enter your coins, open the small door, and enjoy your food.

A wall of vending machines filled with late-night comfort food.  Each item costs around 1.60 euros - 3 euros.  Simply enter your coins, open the small door, and enjoy your food.

Kipburger (chicken burger) with rundvleeskroket (beef croquettes); another favorite (not pictured) is the cheese souffle (deep fried gouda)

Kipburger (chicken burger) with rundvleeskroket (beef croquettes); another favorite (not pictured) is the cheese souffle (deep fried gouda)

Another great day of eating and exploring.  Just enough time to see everything we wanted to, and then some!  Tomorrow we will be up early to catch our train to Cologne, Germany.

Another great day of eating and exploring.  Just enough time to see everything we wanted to, and then some!  Tomorrow we will be up early to catch our train to Cologne, Germany.

Amsterdam Sightseeing

If you're staying in the Museum District, you can easily walk through Leidseplein, which is a popular square full of shops and restaurants in the southern end of Amsterdam.

amsterdam
Leidseplein shops

Leidseplein shops

 From our hotel, we walked to Greenwoods for breakfast.  It is located in the oldest and first wine bar in Amsterdam (from the 1600's).  This is their homemade soda bread, so good!

 From our hotel, we walked to Greenwoods for breakfast.  It is located in the oldest and first wine bar in Amsterdam (from the 1600's).  This is their homemade soda bread, so good!

Keizers Rustic: a hunk of old creamy dutch cheese, chorizo, smoked ham, cornichons, pickled onions, green apples, and homemade tomato chutney

Keizers Rustic: a hunk of old creamy dutch cheese, chorizo, smoked ham, cornichons, pickled onions, green apples, and homemade tomato chutney

Eggs Benedict: Two poached eggs on a hot buttered muffin with smoked ham and hollandaise sauce

Eggs Benedict: Two poached eggs on a hot buttered muffin with smoked ham and hollandaise sauce

Bloemenmarkt (founded in 1862); the world's only floating flower market. 

Bloemenmarkt (founded in 1862); the world's only floating flower market. 

Bloemenmarkt; where you can find an abundance of tulip bulbs in every shape and size.  You can also find plenty of souvenirs, including shirts, trinkets, and cheese.

Bloemenmarkt; where you can find an abundance of tulip bulbs in every shape and size.  You can also find plenty of souvenirs, including shirts, trinkets, and cheese.

amsterdam
Amsterdam Central Station (founded in 1889); here you will be able to find domestic and international trains around Europe

Amsterdam Central Station (founded in 1889); here you will be able to find domestic and international trains around Europe

Bitterballen (a meat-based snack, usually filled with beef and a gravy-type filling) and a pitcher of Pimm's punch

Bitterballen (a meat-based snack, usually filled with beef and a gravy-type filling) and a pitcher of Pimm's punch

View from the SkyLounge in the DoubleTree Hotel Amsterdam.  

View from the SkyLounge in the DoubleTree Hotel Amsterdam.  

Rooftop at the Nemo Science Museum.  Nice view of the city and free! (walk inside the museum and take the elevator to the roof)

Rooftop at the Nemo Science Museum.  Nice view of the city and free! (walk inside the museum and take the elevator to the roof)

Historic wooden boats outside of the Nemo Science Museum

Historic wooden boats outside of the Nemo Science Museum

The Rembrandt House Museum where the painter, Rembrandt, lived and worked between 1639 and 1656.

The Rembrandt House Museum where the painter, Rembrandt, lived and worked between 1639 and 1656.

Typical street in Amsterdam (watch out for bikes and scooters! they do not yield to pedestrians)

Typical street in Amsterdam (watch out for bikes and scooters! they do not yield to pedestrians)

There seems to be a canal on almost every block

There seems to be a canal on almost every block

Royal Palace of Amsterdam, built in the 17th century

Royal Palace of Amsterdam, built in the 17th century

Church next to the Royal Palace

Church next to the Royal Palace

amsterdam
amsterdam
As mentioned in my previous post, notice the hooks at the top of each building

As mentioned in my previous post, notice the hooks at the top of each building

amsterdam cheese shop
anne frank amsterdam
amsterdam
amsterdam
amsterdam
amsterdam tulip museum
amsterdam tulip museum
amsterdam
amsterdam
Next to the tall church, on the left, is Anne Frank's House.  For more than two years, Anne Frank and her family hid in the secret annex behind the bookcase.  They were isolated from the world in complete darkness; unable to enjoy this view, uncertain of what their future held.

Next to the tall church, on the left, is Anne Frank's House.  For more than two years, Anne Frank and her family hid in the secret annex behind the bookcase.  They were isolated from the world in complete darkness; unable to enjoy this view, uncertain of what their future held.

Outside of the Anne Frank House Museum.  To skip the lines, purchase your tickets online several weeks prior to your trip to Amsterdam.  No photography is allowed inside the museum.

Outside of the Anne Frank House Museum.  To skip the lines, purchase your tickets online several weeks prior to your trip to Amsterdam.  No photography is allowed inside the museum.

Koh-I-Noor is located down the street from the Anne Frank Museum

Koh-I-Noor is located down the street from the Anne Frank Museum

Chicken Tikka Massala

Chicken Tikka Massala

Alloo Gobi and garlic naan

Alloo Gobi and garlic naan

The walk back to our hotel, night view of the city 

The walk back to our hotel, night view of the city 

The Royal Palace at night

The Royal Palace at night

amsterdam
All is calm, all is bright. An appropriate and symbolic ending to a solemn evening.  Despite what our future may hold, this will always be true: "how wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." -Anne Frank

All is calm, all is bright. An appropriate and symbolic ending to a solemn evening.  Despite what our future may hold, this will always be true: "how wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." -Anne Frank

Our First Day in Amsterdam

A few months after our honeymoon, we were blessed with the opportunity to once again travel to Europe.  This time, our adventure started out in Amsterdam.  We took a direct flight there and landed around 10am.  It was too early to check into our hotel, but we were able to leave our luggage with the concierge.  We then walked to Blushing (pictured below) to grab coffee and lunch...

Blushing, a cute coffee shop that is walking distance to the Museum District/Amsterdam sign

Blushing, a cute coffee shop that is walking distance to the Museum District/Amsterdam sign

amsterdam blushing
"Sawadee-Kip" (Grilled chicken roulade, tomato, boiled egg, cucumber, lettuce, cilantro, and homemade yellow curry sauce)

"Sawadee-Kip" (Grilled chicken roulade, tomato, boiled egg, cucumber, lettuce, cilantro, and homemade yellow curry sauce)

"Panini Paparazzi" (ham, cheese, and tomato)

"Panini Paparazzi" (ham, cheese, and tomato)

View of the Rijksmuseum

View of the Rijksmuseum

One of the "I amsterdam" signs in front of the Rijksmuseum

One of the "I amsterdam" signs in front of the Rijksmuseum

The Rijksmuseum; Dutch art and history from the middle ages to present day (includes artists such as Van Gogh and Rembrandt)

The Rijksmuseum; Dutch art and history from the middle ages to present day (includes artists such as Van Gogh and Rembrandt)

Inside the Rijksmuseum

Inside the Rijksmuseum

'Night Watch' by Rembrandt, 1642

'Night Watch' by Rembrandt, 1642

Inside the Rijksmuseum

Inside the Rijksmuseum

After the museum, we walked to the canal to take pictures.  Several of the tour shops by the canal sell Heineken Brewery tickets.  Not only can you purchase the tickets at a discounted rate, but you can also skip the long line outside if you already have your ticket in hand (highly recommended)!

After the museum, we walked to the canal to take pictures.  Several of the tour shops by the canal sell Heineken Brewery tickets.  Not only can you purchase the tickets at a discounted rate, but you can also skip the long line outside if you already have your ticket in hand (highly recommended)!

The Heineken Experience is a self-guided tour that can take as long or as little as you'd like (we spent about 2 hours here, several floors and rooms to stroll around in).  These copper kettles were installed in 1956.

The Heineken Experience is a self-guided tour that can take as long or as little as you'd like (we spent about 2 hours here, several floors and rooms to stroll around in).  These copper kettles were installed in 1956.

The Heineken Tasting Room

The Heineken Tasting Room

A 360-degree TV room with various Heineken commercials in different languages

A 360-degree TV room with various Heineken commercials in different languages

From the Heineken Brewery, we walked over to Albert Cuyp Market.  It's an outdoor market that started around 1904.  You can find everything from fresh fruit, vegetables, meats, cheeses, and clothing/cosmetics.

From the Heineken Brewery, we walked over to Albert Cuyp Market.  It's an outdoor market that started around 1904.  You can find everything from fresh fruit, vegetables, meats, cheeses, and clothing/cosmetics.

Freshly-made stroopwafel (1.50 euros) in Albert Cuyp Market

Freshly-made stroopwafel (1.50 euros) in Albert Cuyp Market

Stroopwafel is popular in the Netherlands (a waffle made from two thin layers of baked dough, filled with a caramel-like syrup in the middle)

Stroopwafel is popular in the Netherlands (a waffle made from two thin layers of baked dough, filled with a caramel-like syrup in the middle)

The old homes and buildings lining the canals of Amsterdam have VERY narrow and steep staircases.  At the top of each building, you will most likely find a large arm with a hook.  This is so that large items can be hoisted to the upstairs floors (still in use today).

The old homes and buildings lining the canals of Amsterdam have VERY narrow and steep staircases.  At the top of each building, you will most likely find a large arm with a hook.  This is so that large items can be hoisted to the upstairs floors (still in use today).

After walking around the market, we headed over the Kartika for dinner.  A friend recommended this restaurant and mentioned that it was one of the best places for Indonesian food in Amsterdam (we would have to agree). 

After walking around the market, we headed over the Kartika for dinner.  A friend recommended this restaurant and mentioned that it was one of the best places for Indonesian food in Amsterdam (we would have to agree). 

We ate outside and ordered the "rice table," which was 12 small dishes.  All were very delicious and full of flavor!

We ate outside and ordered the "rice table," which was 12 small dishes.  All were very delicious and full of flavor!

If you're looking for a unique lodging experience, these houseboats are rented out as either bed & breakfasts or by their owners.  They come fully equipped and are conveniently located in the heart of the city.

If you're looking for a unique lodging experience, these houseboats are rented out as either bed & breakfasts or by their owners.  They come fully equipped and are conveniently located in the heart of the city.

Because we hadn't had enough walking for one day, we decided to walk over to De Hallen.  A former train depot that was built between 1902 and 1928.  

Because we hadn't had enough walking for one day, we decided to walk over to De Hallen.  A former train depot that was built between 1902 and 1928.  

Now, De Hallen is a building with a modern-feel that houses offices and shops for film, arts, fashion, and crafts.

Now, De Hallen is a building with a modern-feel that houses offices and shops for film, arts, fashion, and crafts.

De Hallen also has an indoor food hall with a variety of food stands; both savory and sweet.

De Hallen also has an indoor food hall with a variety of food stands; both savory and sweet.

We ended our very busy day with one more walk around the city.  Amsterdam is yet another European town with so much history and beauty.  Despite its 165 canals and 1281 bridges, it's hard to get tired of the view.  There is something so unique about each building, flower, boat, bridge, etc. that you will discover something new with every street corner you turn.  Another full day planned for tomorrow!

We ended our very busy day with one more walk around the city.  Amsterdam is yet another European town with so much history and beauty.  Despite its 165 canals and 1281 bridges, it's hard to get tired of the view.  There is something so unique about each building, flower, boat, bridge, etc. that you will discover something new with every street corner you turn.  Another full day planned for tomorrow!

Stephanie's Senior Photos

Stephanie needed some senior photos for her yearbook.  At first, she was a bit nervous in front of the camera, but after the first few shots, her nervousness quickly went away.  It was a great shoot where we got tons of great images and here are some of my favorites from the shoot.

The Rooftop at SkyHouse Austin

Linda and I were graciously invited to a friend's rooftop terrace at SkyHouse Austin.  It is a high rise apartment building that sits right on Rainey Street.  It has a great view of downtown and Lady Bird Lake.  I was told when it is peak season to watch the bats coming out from the bridge, they flight right over this building.  After taking a few shots as the sun was going down, we relaxed to some BBQ and beers.  

austin texas
austin texas
austin texas

After hanging out for a bit, we hopped over to the pool area and got some great shots with the city lights.

austin texas
austin texas
austin texas
austin texas

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir

The last time Linda was in town, we took a quick trip to check out the unique BAPS temple in Stafford.  BAPS is a Hindu temple that took 28 months to build and consists of 33,000 pieces of hand-carved Italian marble and Turkish limestone.  All of the marble pieces were assembled together like a jigsaw puzzle.  This beautiful temple makes for a great backdrop for Linda to practice her best modeling poses.

baps shri swaminarayan mandir
baps shri swaminarayan mandir
baps shri swaminarayan mandir
baps shri swaminarayan mandir
baps shri swaminarayan mandir
baps shri swaminarayan mandir

Our Last Day in Oia, Santorini

Sadly, today is our last day in Santorini.  What an experience it has been!  Check-out time at our hotel was at noon, but they let us keep our luggage in the office until our flight out to Athens (which wasn't until 10pm).  Since we had the entire day, we strolled around Oia one last time.  Surprisingly, there were still stairways and alleys that we hadn't yet discovered...

Stairway leading to another marina (not as touristy).

Stairway leading to another marina (not as touristy).

oia santorini greece
Tiny gate leading to a small, private patio.

Tiny gate leading to a small, private patio.

These musicians were really good and we purchased their CD.  They were located in the square with the Church of Panagia Platsani.

These musicians were really good and we purchased their CD.  They were located in the square with the Church of Panagia Platsani.

Another door leading to our hotel, Atrina.

Another door leading to our hotel, Atrina.

Seafood pasta at Lotza in Oia

Seafood pasta at Lotza in Oia

Santorini "burger" with pita bread at Lotza

Santorini "burger" with pita bread at Lotza

oia santorini greece
oia santorini greece
The kastro walls of Oia (ruins of an old castle that dates back to the 1200s; a popular spot to watch the Santorini sunset).  You can also see the 300 steps leading down to Amoudi Bay.

The kastro walls of Oia (ruins of an old castle that dates back to the 1200s; a popular spot to watch the Santorini sunset).  You can also see the 300 steps leading down to Amoudi Bay.

oia santorini greece
oia santorini greece
oia santorini greece
oia santorini greece
Finally, we found some hummus! 

Finally, we found some hummus! 

Greek salad (red and green bell peppers, onions, black olives, feta cheese, capers, and olive oil/spices)

Greek salad (red and green bell peppers, onions, black olives, feta cheese, capers, and olive oil/spices)

Chicken kabob over rice

Chicken kabob over rice

oia santorini greece
oia santorini greece
The middle of the day was very hot, so we went back to our hotel to sit by the pool.  The hotel staff knew we were waiting around for our flight, so they brought us some freshly cut watermelon (complimentary).

The middle of the day was very hot, so we went back to our hotel to sit by the pool.  The hotel staff knew we were waiting around for our flight, so they brought us some freshly cut watermelon (complimentary).

Dinner at Skala (the wine bottle doesn't have a label; Skala makes their own wine on-site)

Dinner at Skala (the wine bottle doesn't have a label; Skala makes their own wine on-site)

Kefalotyri cheese-olive fried croquettes

Kefalotyri cheese-olive fried croquettes

Cheesy goodness

Cheesy goodness

Soutzoukakia with rice - cumin flavored baked meatballs with tomato sauce

Soutzoukakia with rice - cumin flavored baked meatballs with tomato sauce

Mousakas baked in a clay pot

Mousakas baked in a clay pot

oia santorini greece mousaka
The tables by the edge of the balcony at most restaurants are filled right before sunset.

The tables by the edge of the balcony at most restaurants are filled right before sunset.

oia santorini greece
oia santorini greece
oia santorini greece
One last Santorini sunset.  It was the best one of our trip.

One last Santorini sunset.  It was the best one of our trip.

A beautiful place to walk at night.  Both the sky and scenery seem too good to be true; another dream-like world.

A beautiful place to walk at night.  Both the sky and scenery seem too good to be true; another dream-like world.

oia santorini greece
oia santorini greece
oia santorini greece
 We couldn't have asked for a better experience.  The honeymoon of a lifetime in some of the most beautiful places of the world.  We hope to return to Italy and Greece someday.  Maybe when we're old and gray, sitting on the same balcony.  We'll be reminiscing on how all of the things we had hoped and dreamed for, had come true.

 We couldn't have asked for a better experience.  The honeymoon of a lifetime in some of the most beautiful places of the world.  We hope to return to Italy and Greece someday.  Maybe when we're old and gray, sitting on the same balcony.  We'll be reminiscing on how all of the things we had hoped and dreamed for, had come true.

Exploring the Akrotiri and Pyrgos in Santorini

This morning we woke up early to watch the sunrise.  We'll definitely miss this amazing view from our balcony.  It's where we spent most of our time.  After discussing our options on what to do today (as mentioned in a previous post, we didn't have an itinerary planned for our honeymoon), we decided to rent a scooter and tour the island of Santorini.  

oia santorini greece
The island of Santorini (from Oia to Akrotiri) is only about 16 miles.  There are plenty of scenic points along the way, so make sure to bring your camera.

The island of Santorini (from Oia to Akrotiri) is only about 16 miles.  There are plenty of scenic points along the way, so make sure to bring your camera.

After a short ride, we made it to Akrotiri (the other end of the island).  This church is located at the beginning of the trail that leads to the Red Beach in Akrotiri.

After a short ride, we made it to Akrotiri (the other end of the island).  This church is located at the beginning of the trail that leads to the Red Beach in Akrotiri.

A viewpoint along the trail leading to the Red Beach.

A viewpoint along the trail leading to the Red Beach.

Red Beach near the ancient site of Akrotiri (red and black volcanic rocks line the cliff)

Red Beach near the ancient site of Akrotiri (red and black volcanic rocks line the cliff)

The outside of the archeological site of ancient Akrotiri.  The entrance fee is 12 euros, and you can pay an additional amount for a guided tour.

The outside of the archeological site of ancient Akrotiri.  The entrance fee is 12 euros, and you can pay an additional amount for a guided tour.

Similar to Pompeii, Akrotiri was buried in volcanic ash around 1627 BC, which preserved the remains of this Minoan Bronze Age settlement.  Akrotiri started as a small farming and fishing village, and later expanded into a center for processing copper.

Similar to Pompeii, Akrotiri was buried in volcanic ash around 1627 BC, which preserved the remains of this Minoan Bronze Age settlement.  Akrotiri started as a small farming and fishing village, and later expanded into a center for processing copper.

Akrotiri was a sophisticated village with paved streets, extensive drainage system, and high-quality crafts.

Akrotiri was a sophisticated village with paved streets, extensive drainage system, and high-quality crafts.

akrotiri santorini greece
After touring Akrotiri, we rode up the hill to the town of Pyrgos.  Since Pyrgos is perched high on top of a hill, there are panoramic views of the entire island of Santorini.

After touring Akrotiri, we rode up the hill to the town of Pyrgos.  Since Pyrgos is perched high on top of a hill, there are panoramic views of the entire island of Santorini.

Since Pyrgos is very small and further away from the larger towns, there were no tourists to be found.

Since Pyrgos is very small and further away from the larger towns, there were no tourists to be found.

Church in Pyrgos

Church in Pyrgos

pyrgos santorini greece
View from the top of Pyrgos

View from the top of Pyrgos

Pyrgos has the typical shops and boutiques of Santorini.  However, you'll feel like you have the entire town to yourself.

Pyrgos has the typical shops and boutiques of Santorini.  However, you'll feel like you have the entire town to yourself.

pyrgos santorini greece
Kantouni Traditional Cafe; we stumbled upon this place at the bottom of the hill in Pyrgos.  Their menu was like a newspaper and their food was local and very fresh.  A good choice if you're in Pyrgos.

Kantouni Traditional Cafe; we stumbled upon this place at the bottom of the hill in Pyrgos.  Their menu was like a newspaper and their food was local and very fresh.  A good choice if you're in Pyrgos.

pyrgos santorini greece
Santorinian fava scented with orange zest, served with roasted almonds and local sausage; pita on the side

Santorinian fava scented with orange zest, served with roasted almonds and local sausage; pita on the side

Fried calamari in a crunchy crust with semolina and corn flour, served with sun dried tomato cocktail sauce

Fried calamari in a crunchy crust with semolina and corn flour, served with sun dried tomato cocktail sauce

Although we had rented the scooter for 24 hours, we decided to return it early since we knew we would be leaving Santorini tomorrow.  We ate dinner back in Oia and this was our view!

Although we had rented the scooter for 24 hours, we decided to return it early since we knew we would be leaving Santorini tomorrow.  We ate dinner back in Oia and this was our view!

Black olives, sundried tomatoes, and capers with freshly-baked bread

Black olives, sundried tomatoes, and capers with freshly-baked bread

A delicious hand-tossed pizza (because we didn't get enough in Italy!)

A delicious hand-tossed pizza (because we didn't get enough in Italy!)

Church of Panagia Platsani

Church of Panagia Platsani

The main street of Oia in the evening

The main street of Oia in the evening

So romantical!

So romantical!

Tomorrow will not only be our last day in Santorini, but also the last day of our honeymoon.  It has certainly been the best honeymoon we could have ever hoped for. 

Tomorrow will not only be our last day in Santorini, but also the last day of our honeymoon.  It has certainly been the best honeymoon we could have ever hoped for. 

The Hike From Fira to Oia in Santorini

This morning, we woke up early and ate breakfast on our balcony.  We knew our day would be filled with a lot of walking, so we wore our tennis shoes this time.  We would be taking the bus to Fira, and then hiking from Fira to Oia, which is about 6 miles.  It's not a long hike, but the hills can be steep and the terrain is rugged (mostly dirt and loose rocks).

Eating breakfast on our balcony before our trip to Fira.

Eating breakfast on our balcony before our trip to Fira.

Our first view of Fira (the bus ride from Oia to Fira was only 30 minutes and 1.60 euros/person.)

Our first view of Fira (the bus ride from Oia to Fira was only 30 minutes and 1.60 euros/person.)

Fira is the capital of Santorini and it is much larger than Oia, which means more room for tour groups and cruise ships.

Fira is the capital of Santorini and it is much larger than Oia, which means more room for tour groups and cruise ships.

You'll find plenty of musicians playing music on the sidewalk.

You'll find plenty of musicians playing music on the sidewalk.

Just like Oia, the restaurants in Fira have incredible views.

Just like Oia, the restaurants in Fira have incredible views.

Our hike hasn't even started yet and we are amazed by the scenic views and deep blue waters.  Fira is closer to the center of Santorini (as opposed to Oia), which gives it a different vantage point.

Our hike hasn't even started yet and we are amazed by the scenic views and deep blue waters.  Fira is closer to the center of Santorini (as opposed to Oia), which gives it a different vantage point.

Plenty of small boutiques to browse through.  This shop (to the left) sells genuine leather handbags and purses.

Plenty of small boutiques to browse through.  This shop (to the left) sells genuine leather handbags and purses.

fira santorini greece
fira santorini greece
Lucky's is small, but they are fast and you don't have to wait long at all.  This place had the best souvlaki wrap that we had in Santorini (pictured below.)

Lucky's is small, but they are fast and you don't have to wait long at all.  This place had the best souvlaki wrap that we had in Santorini (pictured below.)

Souvlaki wrap at Lucky's in Fira...delicious!

Souvlaki wrap at Lucky's in Fira...delicious!

We also stopped at the Santorini Brewing Company for some beers and snacks before we ventured on our hike.

We also stopped at the Santorini Brewing Company for some beers and snacks before we ventured on our hike.

Authentic Greek fava dip (yellow split peas) with capers; very simple and light, good flavor

Authentic Greek fava dip (yellow split peas) with capers; very simple and light, good flavor

Fried cheese...so good!

Fried cheese...so good!

It was a little difficult to find the trail that started the hike.  After asking a few of the locals, we finally made our way out of Fira.  Make sure to stock up on several bottles of water before you leave Fira (it was very hot when we were there).  It's also a good idea to have a hat and plenty of sunscreen.  Also, make sure to use the restroom, since there are no public restrooms along way.  Plan for the hike to take about 1.5-4 hours (it took us 3 hours; I stopped quite a bit to take pictures).

It was a little difficult to find the trail that started the hike.  After asking a few of the locals, we finally made our way out of Fira.  Make sure to stock up on several bottles of water before you leave Fira (it was very hot when we were there).  It's also a good idea to have a hat and plenty of sunscreen.  Also, make sure to use the restroom, since there are no public restrooms along way.  Plan for the hike to take about 1.5-4 hours (it took us 3 hours; I stopped quite a bit to take pictures).

santorini greece
The panoramic views are spectacular!  If you look closely, you can see Oia at the very end of the caldera.

The panoramic views are spectacular!  If you look closely, you can see Oia at the very end of the caldera.

You'll pass by many smaller towns along the way.  Each of them has their own unique set of hotels and shops.

You'll pass by many smaller towns along the way.  Each of them has their own unique set of hotels and shops.

These churches have some of the best views in the world.

These churches have some of the best views in the world.

santorini greece
santorini greece
santorini greece
santorini greece
The blue domes of the church match the deep blue sky and sea below.

The blue domes of the church match the deep blue sky and sea below.

santorini greece
Stay on the trail, it's a steep slope down to the sea.

Stay on the trail, it's a steep slope down to the sea.

This church was at the very top of a hill with no easy access by car.  There was a man was waiting outside of this empty church.  He didn't speak any English, but motioned to us if we'd like to look inside.  We agreed, and looked around the small, one room chapel.  We thanked him and he politely shook our hands as we left.  

This church was at the very top of a hill with no easy access by car.  There was a man was waiting outside of this empty church.  He didn't speak any English, but motioned to us if we'd like to look inside.  We agreed, and looked around the small, one room chapel.  We thanked him and he politely shook our hands as we left.  

A little less than halfway back to Oia.  As you can see, Oia's still in the distance at the very end of the caldera.

A little less than halfway back to Oia.  As you can see, Oia's still in the distance at the very end of the caldera.

A private hotel.  Once we make it down this hill, we follow the road a little before we ascend the next large hill.

A private hotel.  Once we make it down this hill, we follow the road a little before we ascend the next large hill.

santorini greece
These views made the hike a little easier.

These views made the hike a little easier.

This trail leads up to a church, which has the best view of Oia from above.

This trail leads up to a church, which has the best view of Oia from above.

At this point, we still had about a mile to go, but we didn't mind.  We were so happy that we didn't have any more hills to climb!

At this point, we still had about a mile to go, but we didn't mind.  We were so happy that we didn't have any more hills to climb!

After we got back to our hotel, we swam and lounged around the pool for a while before we headed out to dinner.  This is our view from dinner.

After we got back to our hotel, we swam and lounged around the pool for a while before we headed out to dinner.  This is our view from dinner.

Santorini Salad

Santorini Salad

Moussaka; an eggplant and potato-based dish with minced meat, cheese, and a bechamel sauce that is layered like a casserole; very good

Moussaka; an eggplant and potato-based dish with minced meat, cheese, and a bechamel sauce that is layered like a casserole; very good

Cheese croquettes

Cheese croquettes

Santorini has some of the best sunsets in the world.  There is a specific point where people "camp out" waiting several hours for the sunset.  But, I found that if you explore the alleys, you'll find an even better view that's not nearly as crowded.

Santorini has some of the best sunsets in the world.  There is a specific point where people "camp out" waiting several hours for the sunset.  But, I found that if you explore the alleys, you'll find an even better view that's not nearly as crowded.

oia santorini greece
oia santorini greece
oia santorini greece
oia santorini greece
We stopped by the Kissing Fish on our walk back to our hotel to have our feet tickled.

We stopped by the Kissing Fish on our walk back to our hotel to have our feet tickled.

It was quite the experience!  We couldn't tell if our feet were different afterwards, but this is something you won't be able to experience in the U.S. 

It was quite the experience!  We couldn't tell if our feet were different afterwards, but this is something you won't be able to experience in the U.S. 

 The hike was definitely well-worth the views.  Another perfect ending to a perfect day.  Tomorrow, we're traveling to another part of the island (but not by foot or by bus).  Stay tuned to see where we're headed!

 The hike was definitely well-worth the views.  Another perfect ending to a perfect day.  Tomorrow, we're traveling to another part of the island (but not by foot or by bus).  Stay tuned to see where we're headed!

Around Oia and Amoudi Bay in Santorini

We really lucked out on hotels during our honeymoon.  There are so many options and since neither of us had been to Italy or Greece, we really didn't know what to expect.  We chose our hotels solely based on pictures and reviews.  We didn't go for the most expensive hotels, but we also didn't hold back when it came to deciding on a room.  Atrina has complimentary breakfast that is served to you on your private balcony.  French-pressed coffee/tea, juice, jams, greek honey, and a variety of fresh pastries and breads are served to you with every breakfast option.  You also get a choice of a Mediterranean, English, or Greek-styled breakfast.  For our first morning, we both chose the Mediterranean breakfast.

Mediterranean breakfast on our balcony.

Mediterranean breakfast on our balcony.

oia santorini greece
The mornings were beautiful.  Sunny skies the entire time we were there.

The mornings were beautiful.  Sunny skies the entire time we were there.

Off to the distance, you can see some boats down at the bay.  This is where we would spend most of the day today (Amoudi Bay.)

Off to the distance, you can see some boats down at the bay.  This is where we would spend most of the day today (Amoudi Bay.)

oia santorini greece
oia santorini greece
All of the hotels are very unique.  Some of the staircases have signs that say 'private' or 'guests only,' but a lot of them don't.  This is how I got some of my best pictures, especially at sunset.

All of the hotels are very unique.  Some of the staircases have signs that say 'private' or 'guests only,' but a lot of them don't.  This is how I got some of my best pictures, especially at sunset.

oia santorini greece
The main alley leading you through the town of Oia.  At times, this area can be very crowded, especially when cruise ships arrive and their tour groups scurry through the shops.  Early in the morning or late afternoon are good times if you'd like to have quiet time to yourself.

The main alley leading you through the town of Oia.  At times, this area can be very crowded, especially when cruise ships arrive and their tour groups scurry through the shops.  Early in the morning or late afternoon are good times if you'd like to have quiet time to yourself.

Exploring one of the staircases.  Santorini is filled with some of the most simple and beautiful churches.

Exploring one of the staircases.  Santorini is filled with some of the most simple and beautiful churches.

oia santorini greece
oia santorini greece
The 300 (large) steps leading down to Amoudi Bay.

The 300 (large) steps leading down to Amoudi Bay.

The hike down to (or up from) Amoudi Bay can be taxing, but well worth the view.

The hike down to (or up from) Amoudi Bay can be taxing, but well worth the view.

As you can see, even though there are only 300 steps to Amoudi Bay, the steps are longer than the average step (about 2-3 feet in most places.)  So, it will take a bit more time to descend/ascend.

As you can see, even though there are only 300 steps to Amoudi Bay, the steps are longer than the average step (about 2-3 feet in most places.)  So, it will take a bit more time to descend/ascend.

Getting closer to Amoudi Bay

Getting closer to Amoudi Bay

We made it!  If you pass the restaurants and keep walking to the left, there's a small (and slightly dangerous) trail that'll lead you to a swimming area.

We made it!  If you pass the restaurants and keep walking to the left, there's a small (and slightly dangerous) trail that'll lead you to a swimming area.

This part of the trail is fine, but some parts are very rocky and steep.  We were wearing sandals since we planned to go swimming, not the best choice of footwear.

This part of the trail is fine, but some parts are very rocky and steep.  We were wearing sandals since we planned to go swimming, not the best choice of footwear.

The swimming area near Amoudi Bay.  The water is clean, but chilly.  Be careful if a small speed boat or large cruise ships coasts by, as the waters will become very choppy and there are many rocks nearby.

The swimming area near Amoudi Bay.  The water is clean, but chilly.  Be careful if a small speed boat or large cruise ships coasts by, as the waters will become very choppy and there are many rocks nearby.

After swimming, we walked back to Amoudi Bay and ate lunch at Katina's, which is well-known for their lobster spaghetti and fresh seafood.

After swimming, we walked back to Amoudi Bay and ate lunch at Katina's, which is well-known for their lobster spaghetti and fresh seafood.

Calamari

Calamari

Eggplant; a popular dish in Santorini filled with lots of flavor

Eggplant; a popular dish in Santorini filled with lots of flavor

Steamed mussels

Steamed mussels

Grilled Octopus

Grilled Octopus

Katina's in Amoudi Bay

Katina's in Amoudi Bay

The colors were so vivid and bright, like a dream!

The colors were so vivid and bright, like a dream!

Freshly caught octopuses, hung out to dry

Freshly caught octopuses, hung out to dry

After spending most of the day in Amoudi Bay, we didn't really feel up to walking back up to Oia in our sandals.  These donkeys were conveniently waiting for us at the bottom of the stairs.  For 5 euros each, it's not a bad deal.  Be careful though, these donkeys aren't the best at walking in a straight line and they hit the walls quite frequently (watch out for your legs!)

After spending most of the day in Amoudi Bay, we didn't really feel up to walking back up to Oia in our sandals.  These donkeys were conveniently waiting for us at the bottom of the stairs.  For 5 euros each, it's not a bad deal.  Be careful though, these donkeys aren't the best at walking in a straight line and they hit the walls quite frequently (watch out for your legs!)

We spent the rest of the afternoon walking around Oia.

We spent the rest of the afternoon walking around Oia.

oia santorini greece
oia santorini greece
Whatever you imagine Santorini to be, it will be exactly as you picture it in your mind (or even better) when you arrive here.

Whatever you imagine Santorini to be, it will be exactly as you picture it in your mind (or even better) when you arrive here.

Some of my favorite views weren't from areas marked as "scenic look-out points"; there's a lot of exploring to be done in Santorini.

Some of my favorite views weren't from areas marked as "scenic look-out points"; there's a lot of exploring to be done in Santorini.

oia santorini greece
Back to our room for some relaxation time before dinner

Back to our room for some relaxation time before dinner

Lolita's was recommended to us for their (locally) wine-infused gelato.

Lolita's was recommended to us for their (locally) wine-infused gelato.

To be honest, we ate so much gelato in Italy and Greece that I can not tell you what these flavors were.  I do know that we indulged in every bite and it was delicious!

To be honest, we ate so much gelato in Italy and Greece that I can not tell you what these flavors were.  I do know that we indulged in every bite and it was delicious!

Surprisingly, it was hard to find gyros and hummus in Greece.  Pitogyros was one of the highest rated places in Oia for gyros.

Surprisingly, it was hard to find gyros and hummus in Greece.  Pitogyros was one of the highest rated places in Oia for gyros.

Not the best gyro that I've had, the meat was dry and somewhat flavorless.  However, we did find a place with good gyros in Fira (next blog post, stay tuned!)

Not the best gyro that I've had, the meat was dry and somewhat flavorless.  However, we did find a place with good gyros in Fira (next blog post, stay tuned!)

The garlic pita bread and greek salad were delicious

The garlic pita bread and greek salad were delicious

The Church of Panagia Platsani

The Church of Panagia Platsani

oia santorini greece
oia santorini greece
oia santorini greece
oia santorini greece
oia santorini greece
Another view of Fira in the distance, it's been calling our name.  One of the most recommended things to do in Santorini is the hike from Fira to Oia.  This is what we'll be doing tomorrow...wish us luck!

Another view of Fira in the distance, it's been calling our name.  One of the most recommended things to do in Santorini is the hike from Fira to Oia.  This is what we'll be doing tomorrow...wish us luck!

Arriving in Santorini

Last stop on our honeymoon...Santorini, Greece!  We took a flight from Rome to Athens.  From there, it was just a short flight (about 50 minutes) to Santorini.  Our hotel highly recommended that we set up a ride from the airport to the hotel with their shuttle.  The airport in Santorini is VERY small and taxi service is scarce.  We're so glad that we did arrange something beforehand, because there were only 2-3 taxis in the front of the airport.  The other 20 or so drivers were holding up signs for their future passengers.  From the airport, it was about a 30 minute drive to our hotel in Oia.  

Greece
When we arrived to the entrance of the town of Oia, a porter was already waiting for us.  We were not only amazed at how he could carry all of our luggage at the same time, but also how he could carry the luggage up and down the steep steps of our hotel in one trip.  This was the entrance to our hotel (Atrina Canava Traditional Houses).  We were pleased to find that Atrina was in a good location (not in the crowded part of town, but close enough to walk to everything) and their customer service was impeccable.

When we arrived to the entrance of the town of Oia, a porter was already waiting for us.  We were not only amazed at how he could carry all of our luggage at the same time, but also how he could carry the luggage up and down the steep steps of our hotel in one trip.  This was the entrance to our hotel (Atrina Canava Traditional Houses).  We were pleased to find that Atrina was in a good location (not in the crowded part of town, but close enough to walk to everything) and their customer service was impeccable.

As you can see, they paid very close attention to detail.  This complimentary bottle of wine and rose petals were waiting for us, along with a hand-written note congratulating us on our recent nuptials.

As you can see, they paid very close attention to detail.  This complimentary bottle of wine and rose petals were waiting for us, along with a hand-written note congratulating us on our recent nuptials.

Trail of rose petals leading to the bed

Trail of rose petals leading to the bed

The pure white walls complimented the blue bathroom to bring together the trademark colors of the Greek Cycladic islands.

The pure white walls complimented the blue bathroom to bring together the trademark colors of the Greek Cycladic islands.

Our large open bathroom with a rainfall shower.

Our large open bathroom with a rainfall shower.

A nice seating area by the windows and a small kitchen (stove-top, sink, and refrigerator.)

A nice seating area by the windows and a small kitchen (stove-top, sink, and refrigerator.)

Our private balcony with another stunning view

Our private balcony with another stunning view

The view to the left of our balcony, you can see the pool lit up (lower center)

The view to the left of our balcony, you can see the pool lit up (lower center)

The view to the right of our balcony

The view to the right of our balcony

The pool at Atrina

The pool at Atrina

oia santorini greece
After we unpacked, we took a walk through the town of Oia.  Lots of shops, boutiques, and restaurants to choose from.

After we unpacked, we took a walk through the town of Oia.  Lots of shops, boutiques, and restaurants to choose from.

All of the restaurants and hotels had marvelous views

All of the restaurants and hotels had marvelous views

The Church of Panagia Platsani.  During the day, this square is filled with vendors and musicians.  

The Church of Panagia Platsani.  During the day, this square is filled with vendors and musicians.  

oia santorini greece
in the distance, you can see Fira (another town in Santorini) lit up at night.  In a future blog post, I will document our hike from Fira back to Oia.

in the distance, you can see Fira (another town in Santorini) lit up at night.  In a future blog post, I will document our hike from Fira back to Oia.

Assyrtiko is a white wine grape that is indigenous to the island of Santorini.  This became a favorite of ours during our stay in Santorini.  Maybe it was the nostalgia of being on this balcony with my favorite person that made it so special.  One thing's for sure, we found this exact bottle once we arrived back home and will be saving it for our one-year anniversary.  Maybe the view won't be as great, maybe the taste won't even be as appealing, but the memories of our first year together will be reason to celebrate.

Assyrtiko is a white wine grape that is indigenous to the island of Santorini.  This became a favorite of ours during our stay in Santorini.  Maybe it was the nostalgia of being on this balcony with my favorite person that made it so special.  One thing's for sure, we found this exact bottle once we arrived back home and will be saving it for our one-year anniversary.  Maybe the view won't be as great, maybe the taste won't even be as appealing, but the memories of our first year together will be reason to celebrate.

Day of Exploring Rome

With only one more day in Rome, we woke up this morning with a mission.  We had purchased City Sightseeing (24-hour) bus passes in order to hit all of Rome's top historical sights.  Our goal was to get to the Colosseum before it opened, so we left early.  However, what we thought was going to be a 15-20 minute bus ride, turned out to be an hour and a half!  We didn't realize how many stops we would make along the way, or the amount of waiting we would spend at each stop.  So, after we arrived at our first destination we threw our bus passes away and spent the rest of the day walking around Rome. 

Our first view of the Colosseum (70-80 AD.)  Not pictured: the long line waiting for us on the other side.

Our first view of the Colosseum (70-80 AD.)  Not pictured: the long line waiting for us on the other side.

The Arch of Constantine (315 AD)

The Arch of Constantine (315 AD)

The long line outside of the Colosseum.  Luckily, it was a beautiful day.

The long line outside of the Colosseum.  Luckily, it was a beautiful day.

colosseum rome italy
The hypogeum; an underground network of tunnels where the gladiators and animals waited before the games began.  All of this was enclosed (the stage has been removed.)  

The hypogeum; an underground network of tunnels where the gladiators and animals waited before the games began.  All of this was enclosed (the stage has been removed.)  

Tours of the hypogeum are available, but make sure to sign up ahead of time.

Tours of the hypogeum are available, but make sure to sign up ahead of time.

colosseum rome italy
The Arch of Titus (82 AD), located inside the Roman Forum

The Arch of Titus (82 AD), located inside the Roman Forum

The Roman Forum, which was the center of Roman life for centures.  It holds the ruins of several ancient government buildings

The Roman Forum, which was the center of Roman life for centures.  It holds the ruins of several ancient government buildings

High society; the center of Roman public life

High society; the center of Roman public life

The Roman Forum

The Roman Forum

The Roman Forum

The Roman Forum

The Roman Forum

The Roman Forum

The Roman Forum

The Roman Forum

Campo de Fiori (a marketplace that is south of Piazza Navona); several vendors selling fresh fruit, vegetables, and souvenirs.

Campo de Fiori (a marketplace that is south of Piazza Navona); several vendors selling fresh fruit, vegetables, and souvenirs.

Forno Campo de' Fiori - a bakery with the most delicious snacks and sandwiches.

Forno Campo de' Fiori - a bakery with the most delicious snacks and sandwiches.

St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City (completed in 1626)

St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City (completed in 1626)

St. Peter's Basilica is an Italian Renaissance Church.  It is regarded as the greatest building of its time and one of the largest churches in the world.

St. Peter's Basilica is an Italian Renaissance Church.  It is regarded as the greatest building of its time and one of the largest churches in the world.

St. Peter's Basilica

St. Peter's Basilica

View of the top of the dome in St. Peter's Basilica

View of the top of the dome in St. Peter's Basilica

Mass in St. Peter's Basilica

Mass in St. Peter's Basilica

Tile artwork lines the walkway around the inside of the dome in St. Peter's Basilica

Tile artwork lines the walkway around the inside of the dome in St. Peter's Basilica

There is an option to either walk the entire 551 steps up to the top of St. Peter's Basilica's dome, or take an elevator half-way and then walk 320 steps.  There is no wheelchair access and no other option to see the top.  I would highly recommend making this trek.

There is an option to either walk the entire 551 steps up to the top of St. Peter's Basilica's dome, or take an elevator half-way and then walk 320 steps.  There is no wheelchair access and no other option to see the top.  I would highly recommend making this trek.

The stairs are narrow and steep.  So, this would not be for those who are claustrophobic, acrophobic, or disabled.

The stairs are narrow and steep.  So, this would not be for those who are claustrophobic, acrophobic, or disabled.

Stairs leading up to the dome of St. Peter's Basilica

Stairs leading up to the dome of St. Peter's Basilica

View from the top of St. Peter's Basilica

View from the top of St. Peter's Basilica

View from the top of St. Peter's Basilica

View from the top of St. Peter's Basilica

The dome at St. Peter's Basilica

The dome at St. Peter's Basilica

St. Peter's Basilica 

St. Peter's Basilica 

St. Peter's Basilica

St. Peter's Basilica

The first steps inside this sacred church will take your breath away.  The architecture is so grandiose and intricate at the same time.  How they could have created something so magnificent is beyond me.

The first steps inside this sacred church will take your breath away.  The architecture is so grandiose and intricate at the same time.  How they could have created something so magnificent is beyond me.

Crepuscular rays inside St. Peter's Basilica

Crepuscular rays inside St. Peter's Basilica

The altar with the baldacchino; a 98 ft tall structure that is claimed to be the largest bronze piece in the world.  The baldacchino serves as a holy space above and around the table on which the Sacrament is laid for the Eucharist.

The altar with the baldacchino; a 98 ft tall structure that is claimed to be the largest bronze piece in the world.  The baldacchino serves as a holy space above and around the table on which the Sacrament is laid for the Eucharist.

St. Peter's Basilica 

St. Peter's Basilica 

St. Peter's Basilica

St. Peter's Basilica

The plaque with the list of popes buried in St. Peter's.

The plaque with the list of popes buried in St. Peter's.

Another view of the altar with the baldacchino

Another view of the altar with the baldacchino

St. Peter's Basilica

St. Peter's Basilica

The tomb of Pope Alexander VII

The tomb of Pope Alexander VII

st peters basilica vatican city italy
st peters basilica vatican city italy
The Swiss Guards outside of St. Peter's Basilica

The Swiss Guards outside of St. Peter's Basilica

Largo di Torre Argentina; the site of four Roman temples.  We stumbled upon this as we were walking from out hotel to dinner. 

Largo di Torre Argentina; the site of four Roman temples.  We stumbled upon this as we were walking from out hotel to dinner. 

Largo di Torre Argentina

Largo di Torre Argentina

Roscioli Salumeria; I would highly recommend getting a reservation here (we were able to book one the day before.)  Our best meal in Rome.

Roscioli Salumeria; I would highly recommend getting a reservation here (we were able to book one the day before.)  Our best meal in Rome.

Homemade table bread

Homemade table bread

Foie gras homemade - goose foie gras carpaccio with sweet and sour onions dressed with raspberry vinegar mixed mixed spices (pepper sarawak, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg)

Foie gras homemade - goose foie gras carpaccio with sweet and sour onions dressed with raspberry vinegar mixed mixed spices (pepper sarawak, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg)

Foie gras on the homemade bread

Foie gras on the homemade bread

Pugliese "burrata" with baby dried tomatoes - burrata cheese with black pepper from Malesia and sundried cherry tomatoes.  We have yet to find a place back in the states that serves a burrata even close to this.

Pugliese "burrata" with baby dried tomatoes - burrata cheese with black pepper from Malesia and sundried cherry tomatoes.  We have yet to find a place back in the states that serves a burrata even close to this.

Cacio e pepe - fresh pasta with roman pecorino cheese dop, "cacio" from Moliterno, picorino di fossa from Sogliano del Rubicone and Malaisian black pepper 

Cacio e pepe - fresh pasta with roman pecorino cheese dop, "cacio" from Moliterno, picorino di fossa from Sogliano del Rubicone and Malaisian black pepper 

Complimentary cookies with a nutella-like dipping sauce.  The perfect night cap to a busy day of exploring.  One more stop left on this unforgettable honeymoon.  Read on to see where we go next!

Complimentary cookies with a nutella-like dipping sauce.  The perfect night cap to a busy day of exploring.  One more stop left on this unforgettable honeymoon.  Read on to see where we go next!

Kusama: At the End of the Universe

Taking a break from honeymoon blogging to mention this art installation that will only be in Houston for a few more weeks!  Kusama's At the End of the Universe exhibit has been on view this summer at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston.  The exhibit is two of Yayoi Kusama's signature infinity rooms, "Love is Calling" and "Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity."  They came right when Time Magazine named Kusama as one of the 100 most influential people for 2016.  

Before you walk into each exhibit, you have the opportunity to read about the artist (Yayoi Kusama) and the meaning behind each of her art installations.

If you haven't already, be sure to check it out before the exhibit leaves on September 18th!

Love Is Calling; these tentacle-like structures are covered with her signature polka dots.  They change color and are reflected back through the mirrors.

Love Is Calling; these tentacle-like structures are covered with her signature polka dots.  They change color and are reflected back through the mirrors.

Love Is Calling; as you walk through the room, you can hear a love poem recited by Kusama in Japanese.

Love Is Calling; as you walk through the room, you can hear a love poem recited by Kusama in Japanese.

Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity; a small room where they only allow a few people at a time.  You stand on a tiny platform and are surrounded by water, mirrors, and hundreds of magical lights that slowly illuminate and then fade into darkness.

Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity; a small room where they only allow a few people at a time.  You stand on a tiny platform and are surrounded by water, mirrors, and hundreds of magical lights that slowly illuminate and then fade into darkness.

Positano to Rome

The morning arrived where our beautiful time in Positano had come to an end.  The experience was so unforgettable that we weren't quite sure if the rest of our honeymoon would be as extraordinary.  We took as many mental and physical photographs as possible, and said goodbye for now.  We will be back someday.

positano italy
positano italy
We boarded a boat to Salerno, which stopped in Amalfi (again, sit on the left side of the boat for the best views.)

We boarded a boat to Salerno, which stopped in Amalfi (again, sit on the left side of the boat for the best views.)

amalfi coast italy
Lonely house on the cliff

Lonely house on the cliff

Our last view of the Italian coast (Salerno.)

Our last view of the Italian coast (Salerno.)

The Salerno Railway Station, built  in 1866.

The Salerno Railway Station, built  in 1866.

The high-speed train from Salerno to Rome.  In our booth, we met a very nice elderly man from a small town outside of Rome.  He was one of the few people we met who didn't speak English.  However, with our little knowledge of Spanish words that were similar to Italian, and many hand gestures, we were able to hold a meaningful conversation that made that time go by fast. He told us about the must-see sights in Rome, where to find food, how to get to the Colosseum, and about his hometown.  It was so nice to meet someone who was genuinely kind towards tourists.

The high-speed train from Salerno to Rome.  In our booth, we met a very nice elderly man from a small town outside of Rome.  He was one of the few people we met who didn't speak English.  However, with our little knowledge of Spanish words that were similar to Italian, and many hand gestures, we were able to hold a meaningful conversation that made that time go by fast. He told us about the must-see sights in Rome, where to find food, how to get to the Colosseum, and about his hometown.  It was so nice to meet someone who was genuinely kind towards tourists.

After we dropped our luggage off at the hotel, we made our way around the streets of Rome.  Of course, this was our first stop...pizza!

After we dropped our luggage off at the hotel, we made our way around the streets of Rome.  Of course, this was our first stop...pizza!

pizza rome italy
rome italy
We started with the Heart of Rome walk.  This is the Piazza Navona.

We started with the Heart of Rome walk.  This is the Piazza Navona.

The Pantheon

The Pantheon

Inside the Pantheon (very crowded, but free)

Inside the Pantheon (very crowded, but free)

The Pantheon

The Pantheon

The Pantheon

The Pantheon

The Pantheon

The Pantheon

Piazza di Monte Citorio

Piazza di Monte Citorio

Not part of the Heart of Rome walk, but just a slight detour.  Giolitti's has delicious gelato (large serving sizes at prices that are hard to beat!)

Not part of the Heart of Rome walk, but just a slight detour.  Giolitti's has delicious gelato (large serving sizes at prices that are hard to beat!)

giolitti rome italy
giolitti rome italy
giolitti rome italy
Back to the walk...Piazza Colonna

Back to the walk...Piazza Colonna

Altare Della Patria

Altare Della Patria

Altare Della Patria

Altare Della Patria

Altare Della Patria

Altare Della Patria

Altare Della Patria

Altare Della Patria

Altare Della Patria

Altare Della Patria

rome italy
rome italy
rome italy
Fontana di Trevi

Fontana di Trevi

Fontana di Trevi

Fontana di Trevi

The Spanish Steps

The Spanish Steps

Piazza di Spagna

Piazza di Spagna

Piazza del Popolo

Piazza del Popolo

Piazza del Popolo

Piazza del Popolo

We finished the walk just in time to grab these drinks, relax, and watch the sunset.

We finished the walk just in time to grab these drinks, relax, and watch the sunset.

Piazza del Popolo

Piazza del Popolo

We still had some daylight left, so we continued walking and touring the city by foot.

We still had some daylight left, so we continued walking and touring the city by foot.

rome italy
Corte Suprema di Cassazione

Corte Suprema di Cassazione

Castel Sant'Angelo

Castel Sant'Angelo

castel sant angelo rome italy
st peters rome italy
Campo de Fiori; we stumbled upon this town square by chance.  Good live music at night and several options for food/drinks.

Campo de Fiori; we stumbled upon this town square by chance.  Good live music at night and several options for food/drinks.

rome italy
Exhausted and hungry, we ended the night with pasta and pizza :)  Carb loading for another day of sightseeing tomorrow.  Rome is easily one of those cities where you want to make sure and bring your walking shoes!

Exhausted and hungry, we ended the night with pasta and pizza :)  Carb loading for another day of sightseeing tomorrow.  Rome is easily one of those cities where you want to make sure and bring your walking shoes!