Mediterranean Trip Report: Amalfi Coast

It’s been a really busy few weeks. Immediately after getting back from Turks & Caicos at the end of October, I made two trips up to San Francisco for work. I seriously don’t know how frequent travelers do it. I was tired after three weeks of traveling. Then this past week I got sick with a cold and sore throat. Just what I needed.

And now here we are with the holidays upon us. YIKES! I feel so behind at life.

Ok, continuing on with my Mediterranean trip report. Today I’m covering our day along the Amalfi Coast.

Thursday, September 5

The port was Naples, which is another one with multiple destination options. Some people visit Naples itself, Pompeii, or Capri. Rob & I chose to visit the Amalfi Coast, specifically Positano and Sorrento. We seriously considered Pompeii but I knew it would be way too hot and we’d end up being too tired for that. The Amalfi Coast seemed more scenic and relaxing, which is what we needed at this point in the trip.

We decided to use Rome in Limo again and even went with two of the same people (a hilarious mother/daughter pair) from our Rome excursion. It ended up being just the four of us (we were originally scheduled to have a group of 8 but the others bailed) making it a really intimate day.

Our driver Giovanni picked us up at the port and right away I knew it would be a good day. He was hilarious! He had that really dry, subtle Italian humor. SO GREAT.



Almost immediately after we started our drive, Mount Vesuvius came into view on our left. But the more spectacular vantage point came once we got to the other side of the Gulf of Naples.



This is the view looking towards Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast. The island of Capri is just beyond this peninsula.



The stretch of coastline on the southern side of the Sorrentine Peninsula is the region known as the Amalfi Coast. The roads are winding but the view is so beautiful you don’t even notice.

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Mediterranean Trip Report: Rome

Rob & I just got back from a week-long trip to the island of Providenciales (aka Provo) in the Turks & Caicos Islands along with my brother-in-law and his wife. It was HEAVENLY! I’m one of those people who gets a little stir crazy at the thought of spending hours and hours at the beach but that’s pretty much what we did each day. :) I’ll share some pics whenever I get around to downloading them from the camera.

In the meantime, let’s head back to the Mediterranean — this time to Rome!

Wednesday, September 4

Since we only had one day in port, we knew we wanted to go on a guided excursion to do and see as much as possible. It was my second time in Rome but Rob’s first so of course we wanted to hit the main tourist spots like the Colosseum, Vatican Museum, etc. Thanks to Cruise Critic, we not only discovered Rome in Limo but we also found a couple of other parties to share our tour costs. We had a small group of 8, an air-conditioned van, a driver (Nick) and a private guide for the Vatican Museum (Katarina). It was an awesome experience!

Nick picked us up promptly at 8am at Civitavecchia harbor and kept our van entertained the entire 45 minutes it took to get to central Rome.

Our first stop was the Pantheon.



Rob at the Fontana del Pantheon.



The exterior.



The Pantheon Dome with an opening to the sky.



So much to see inside — paintings, sculptures, the tomb of Raphael.



On the way to our next stop, we drove by the Piazza Colonna.

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Mediterranean Trip Report: Cinque Terre

I celebrated my 34th birthday last Friday. YIKES. It sure sounds old, hehe. I had a great weekend celebrating with good friends & family. :)

Rob’s been playing a lot of Grand Theft Auto V lately (ie. monopolizing the TV) so I have time to write the next installment of this report…

Tuesday, September 3
The second port on our cruise was La Spezia, a city and province in northern Italy. At this port, most cruisers head to either Pisa or Florence. Pisa wasn’t that interesting to me (seems like there would be nothing to see there except the tower – please correct me if I’m wrong) and while I would LOVE to visit Florence (I’ve never been), the drive is 2+ hours each way, which I thought was way too long when you’re already dealing with limited port time. Hopefully we’ll be lucky enough to make it to Florence on a land trip someday.

In the end we decided to visit the Cinque Terre, which is a collection of 5 villages located along a rugged coastline of the Italian Riviera. Like Monaco, I originally thought we would explore on our own — I especially wanted to walk along Via Dell’Amore, which is an easy trail between Riomaggiore & Manarola, the first 2 villages, where there are supposed to be beautiful views. But after recent floods, that part of the trail has been closed. I kept checking to see if it opened before our trip but no luck.

The plan was to use the train or water taxis to visit a few of the villages but I got frustrated trying to figure out all the schedules so I finally decided to let Disney hold our hand again and I signed us up for the Cinque Terre Scenic Boat Tour, which was a half day trip — this would end up being the perfect amount of time since we had to rest up for Rome the next day.



The Disney Magic anchored at the port. I adored the ship. It just looks so stately. <3



We met our group bright and early at the Walt Disney Theatre then we were led on to our boat for the day. We found a seat at the top for the best views but also lots of sun and heat!



After leaving La Spezia, we sailed past a beautiful village named Porto Venere.

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Mediterranean Trip Report: Monaco

Happy October everyone! October is my favorite month because of… birthday reasons. Hehe. ;)

Onwards with the trip report!

Monday, September 2

The first port of our Mediterranean cruise was Villefranche, which is a gorgeous village in the Côte d’Azur region of the French Riviera.

At each port, there are so many options and limited time, which is par for the course with a cruise (and is the biggest reason why overall I still prefer land vacations — though I definitely want to cruise again). In Villefranche, we were debating between Nice (to the west) and Monaco (to the east). We decided on the latter. Originally we planned to visit Monaco on our own by taking the train and then getting around to the various sites by a combination of walking or bus. But a few days before our trip, Rob’s foot started acting up (it flares up once in a while making it painful for him to walk on it a lot). So we changed our plans and decided to book an excursion through Disney Cruise LineMonaco, Monte Carlo & Eze. At least this way we’d have transportation everywhere and Rob could take it easy on his foot.



Our first look at the port of Villefranche!

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Mediterranean Trip Report: Barcelona

Hola! :)

It’s been over a week since we got back from our Mediterranean adventure and life is back to normal. Wahhh wahhh.

I know my blog has evolved into a travelogue over the past few years and I’m not quite sure how that happened! I just don’t obsess over TV or fandom the same way I used to before (I reserve the right to take this back after a few more episodes of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD). I mean, I still watch huge amounts of TV (that won’t ever change) but I don’t really have a connection with the shows I watch anymore. Anyway, I guess my blog has never had a point. LOL. It’s just nice to have a place where I can write about whatever I want. And I enjoy looking back, reading old posts, and either laughing or cringing at myself. :P I hope you’ll all continue to stick with me! Especially since writing these blog posts helps to keep me occupied until our next adventure…

So we had an AWESOME Mediterranean vacation — I didn’t want it to end (so cliche)! This was our itinerary —

8/28 Departure flight
8/29 Arrive in Barcelona
8/30 Barcelona
8/31 Cruise embarkation day
9/1 Day at Sea
9/2 Port in Villefranche (Monaco)
9/3 Port in La Spezia (Cinque Terre)
9/4 Port in Civitavecchia (Rome)
9/5 Port in Napes (Amalfi Coast)
9/6 Day at Sea
9/7 Debarkation day + Barcelona
9/8 Flight to Paris
9/9-9/10 Disneyland Paris Resort
9/11 Paris
9/12 Back home

It’s been 7 years since I was in Europe and I hope it won’t be that long until I get back again. I have dreams of visiting Greece and the Baltics. Ahhh, someday!

Thursday, August 29

Our first stop was Barcelona — neither of us have ever been to Spain so we were excited! Unfortunately, on our very first morning, we were targeted for petty theft IN OUR HOTEL, the Le Meridien, and even though everything turned out fine, I HOLD GRUDGES (plus, it was totally my fault). I’m actually still a bit miffed at the whole situation. I had done my research so I knew all the scams and thought I was prepared but unfortunately I was super jet lagged and I let my guard down because we were sitting in a lounge inside our hotel. While Rob was outside, one guy distracted me while another guy took Rob’s backpack from the chair right next to me. ARGH!!! The terrible thing was that I didn’t even notice. Luckily Rob spotted the guy walking out of the hotel with his backpack and got it back without a fight. PHEW. That could have been a disastrous start. After that, all I wanted to do was get into our room and sleep, which is exactly what we did the rest of that first day.

Before that mess, though, we walked along Las Ramblas to La Boqueria, which is a wonderful market filled with fresh meat, seafood, fruits, vegetables… basically anything and everything. It was AMAZING! Take a look…



We had a yummy lunch at one of the many tapas bars in the market and we also picked up juice, fruits and ham & cheese to snack on over the next few days. It was THE BEST.

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mediterranean adventure

Annnd we’re off again on our next adventure! To celebrate our recent 5th anniversary (wow!), Rob & I are heading to Barcelona this week to board a Mediterranean cruise (with stops in Italy & France) and then we’ll fly to Paris for a few days (Disneyland!).



Neither of us have ever been on a cruise before so I’m a little nervous we’ll hate it. But I figure that we’ll be in Europe so we won’t care anyway!

I’ll try to update my Twitter (username: CooKie01) and/or my Instagram feeds (username: cookiekel) when I find free internet access. Follow me! I’m excited to share our adventures with you. :)

comic-con 2013: days 2-4

Finally getting around to the wrap-up of Comic-Con 2013!

Friday, July 19
On Friday, my ONLY goal was to make it in to Ballroom 20 for the Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. panel. Spoiler: we made it in! But before the main attraction, we sat through some other fun panels like…



The Big Bang Theory writers’ panel. Melissa Rauch moderated and we were treated to a fun cameo by…



Johnny Galecki! He was dressed as Princess Leia’s Bounty Hunter and surprised the audience when he took off the mask while asking the writers panel a question. The following day I saw him just lounging around outside of the Hilton Bayfront. So cool to just randomly have celebrity sightings during Comic-Con.



I stopped watching Bones a season or two ago but the panel was still super entertaining… because David Boreanaz was so over the top and ridiculous. He was making snarky comments, talking over the other members of the panel, basically being an attention whore. UGH. So disappointing.

THEN!!! IT WAS TIME. The Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. panel! The entire main cast was in attendance along with the writers/producers and Joss Whedon himself.



The fresh faces — Chloe Bennet, Iain De Caestecker, and Elizabeth Henstridge.



The veterans + one more newbie — Clark Gregg (COULSON LIVES!), Ming-Na Wen (gawd, she doesn’t age), and newcomer Brett Dalton (cute!).



And Joss.

After introducing the cast, they went straight to questions, which is a little weird but ok. There were 1 or 2 real fan questions until a “plant” asked when we were going to see clips from the pilot. Joss responded that there would be no clips due to ABC/Disney legal issues so instead they were going to show the entire episode. !!!

I don’t know if I was caught up in the moment of watching the pilot for the first time with an entire ballroom room full of other excited/crazed fans but I *really* loved it and I’m crossing my fingers that it does well (it’s up against juggernaut NCIS). There’s a lot of potential with this show to add depth to the current Marvel/Avengers cinematic universe. The cast was solid (the majority of them are pretty green but Joss has a proven track record of finding talented unknowns so I’m not too worried), there are tons of Whedon-esque touches from the pacing of the dialogue to the quick quips, and just enough mythology to get you invested without giving away too much right away. I can’t wait to see it again when it premieres on Tue, 9/24. WATCH IT!

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comic-con 2013: days 0 & 1

And yet another month goes by in an absolute BLUR. I was sick for most of July and thought I’d gotten over it in time for Comic-Con but ended up pushing myself too much while in San Diego and got sick all over again. GRRR.

I’m much better now. :)

So it’s time for my Comic-Con recap! It was our 5th year attending the Con and we had a FAB time (well, despite some bad decision-making on our part on Saturday – LOL, I’ll explain later). Can’t wait until next year! Until then, I thought I’d share some highlights…

Wednesday, July 17

On the way down to San Diego, we stopped at San Juan Capistrano for brunch at Ramos House. Oh man, it was SO GOOD! SJC is only about 20 minutes south of where we live but neither Rob nor I have visited since we were kids. It’s so beautiful — I wish we had more time to explore.



Ramos House is located in Old San Juan right next to the train station and the seating is outdoors. It was opening day for the Del Mar Race Track so we had a great view to people watch (I especially loved the women in their snazzy hats!).



We shared crab hash and salmon lox and it was all incredible. Even the complimentary scone with apple butter was to die for. I wish I had picked up a jar of the apple butter to take home. Next time!

We were lucky enough to have 4-day Comic-Con badges with the extra preview night so once we arrived in San Diego, we hit the exhibition hall to scope out all the booths and of course, the TOYS & merchandise! It was WAY more crowded than it’s been in past years so we ended up spending most of our time in lines. To be expected, though — Comic-Con is well known for its abundance of LINES!

That night, we had free tickets to the midnight screening of Psych the Musical. WHEE!



Based on Twitter reports, the Psych cast arrived at the screening in the Weinermobile! And on our way to the movie theatre, we spotted it driving around. So awesome.



We arrived about 45 minutes to showtime so we were pretty far back in line. Unfortunately, this meant we sat in the very first row of the theatre and this was our view.



But this ALSO meant that we were THISCLOSE to the cast when they came in to greet all of us. WOOHOO! (Yeah, sorry… terrible pic, I know).

The musical is scheduled to air in December and it doesn’t really make ANY kind of sense in the context of the show right now BUT it was a lot of FUN!

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first half 2013 photo dump

With half the year behind me, it’s about that time for a photo dump! I know that’s what Instagram is for but most of the time I don’t think about sharing pics right away so… here they are now, heh.

After we went to Portland and had the fish sauce wings at Pok Pok, I asked Rob to try making them one night and he obliged.

They don’t look pretty but they were OHSOGOOD. Recipe here.

I also made mango sticky rice for dessert a few times — it’s one of my favorite desserts and so easy to make too. Recipe here.

I’ve never been a huge burger fan (though I do LOVE Shake Shack) but on a business trip to San Francisco, I got the chance to try Super Duper Burger. YUMMY!

At our local mall, a new pizza place opened called Pieology. For only $7.50, you get an oversized personal thin crust pizza that you can customize with as many toppings as you like. They also have this amazing herb butter that they spread over the dough before it bakes. WOW. IT’S AWESOME.

Finally tried the shaved ice/frozen yogurt combo at Milk & Honey. Gawd, I love dessert.

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valentine’s weekend in portland

Way back on Valentine’s Day, Rob and I took a quick weekend trip up to Portland. Both of us always seem to be excruciatingly busy with work in February so this was a perfect time for a foodie getaway to a new city. :)

We don’t know how to start our mornings without caffeine so on our first day we walked over to Stumptown, a locally owned shop and roaster known for its quality coffee.



I am NOT a coffee connoisseur (what can I say? I love my Starbucks) but I thought it was excellent!

Although the main focus of our trip was to eat our way through the city, we managed to squeeze in a little sightseeing. We rented a car for a day and headed east to visit the waterfalls along the Columbia River Highway. Too bad for us it was the one day that was super overcast and rainy that weekend.



But Multnomah Falls was so beautiful! Even despite the rain. I’m sure it would be even more stunning during the Spring and Summer when the surrounding trees have grown back their leaves. I had originally wanted to hike the half mile up to the Benson foot bridge that you see in the photo but the rain started coming down too hard and the pathways were getting slick and muddy.



We also made a pit stop at Wahkeena Falls.



Our last stop before heading back downtown was the Vista House, which is an observatory and rest area for travelers.

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