Vacationing In Europe

Hiiiiiii everyone. I’m back! Did you miss my weekly updates?

I returned this past Monday from the most amazing vacation.  I spent a couple of days in Crete, Greece with Brian (he had a conference and was there for a week) before starting our vacation.  We spent 5 days in Florence and 5 days in Barcelona.  I can’t even begin to describe in words what an amazing vacation it was!  We had an awesome time exploring the cities and soaking up the history, culture, and food…and of course sprinkled in some downtime.  I did not maintain my gluten free diet, and was okay the first week but by the end of the trip I was definitely ready to be back to gluten-free.  I regret nothing, though 🙂 I took a running tour in each city, and we also did a cooking class in each city.  I plan to do a separate post on each of those activities, as I can’t recommend them enough!

For now, I’ll leave you with some photo highlights from our trip. I’ll be back next week with a regular running update! I didn’t train at all this week because I caught some really nasty flu-like virus and have been down hard all week (seriously…I’ve barely left the couch in 4 days…ugh).

Don’t forget to link up below with Jessie and I!

Florence

We loved the history here.  It was so eye opening to walk around an entire city that was built several hundred years before the United States even existed.  I’m a huge art fan, and Brian is really into science, and we both love history – so this was a PERFECT city for us to visit as it was the birthplace of the renaissance. There were many “touristy” things to do but it wasn’t overwhelming like I think Rome may be.  My only regret is that we visited in the summer – it was SCORCHING hot and many places were not air conditioned.  However, it is a beautiful city with so much to offer.

Sunset in Florence. We took many walks along the Arnes river and often popped in to a wine bar to sip a glass of vino while people watching.

On our first full day, we took a cooking class in a Tuscan farmhouse! This was our view for the day as we learned how to make bruschetta, pasta, pizza, ragu, and tiramasu. Of course, we drank lots of Chianti Classico wine (the wine of the region)

Since it was so hot, we got gelato every day. This particular place at the south end of the Santa Trinta bridge had the best Gelato.

After dinner, we often grabbed drinks and sat and people-watched. This view is in the main city square.

I took a running tour through Florence. I was the only one signed up, so it ended up being a private tour! We did an 8k loop and stopped at this lookout for a photo op. It was amazing to tour the city so early in the morning on foot.

So I got a tip from one of my professors from my VCU days and we found the local leather-making school. And I bought this AMAZING leather jacket. I seriously canNOT wait until it’s cool enough here to wear it!!

We did a tour of the Palazzo Vecchio, which included the famous “hall of 500”. If you’ve seen the movie “Inferno” then you know this hall. This photo doesn’t even do it justice!

Of course, we also had to got to the Uffizi museum which housed many famous renaissance artworks, including this one – Boticelli’s “Birth of Venus”.

Sandwiches!! This was one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had.

Barcelona

Barcelona was an awesome city.  It was larger and more modern than Florence, and so multi-cultural.  We took the underground (subway) most places and our visit here definitely revolved around two things: food, and Gaudi.

Brunch – there is a gluten free pancake under all this…

We did a Gaudi walking tour the first day which was a great way to learn about this innovative architect.

SANGRIA!! Oh man, I’m going to have to learn how to make this…

Potatoes Bravas. Also known as crack. Another thing I’m going to have to learn how to make.

10k running tour at sunrise, which included running down by the beach.

Brunch – glorious pancakes. I was hurting hard after this meal, but it was worth it. Every bite was phenomenal!

Cooking class – we learned how to make seafood Paella!!

Flat white coffee drinks were served at almost every restaurant and I couldn’t get enough!

THE BEST MOJITO OF MY ENTIRE LIFE!! We walked through the dodgiest part of the city just to get one of these, and we ended up ordering several rounds. This was a blackberry mojito that went down SOOOO smooth. The food at this restaurant was great as well.

More brunch – this was the best one of the trip. Baked eggs with spinach and Parmesan, topped with chorizo sausage. YUM.

Out of all the historical sites we saw on vacation, this took the cake hands down – La Sagrada Familia. This basilica has been under construction for over 100 years, and is slated to be finished in 2026 for the centennial of Gaudi’s death. I can’t even begin to show photos to do this justice — ADD THIS TO YOUR BUCKET LIST.

The inside of the basilica.

Jamon Serrano – a super fancy, long cured pork product that is common in Spain. The meat comes from an Iberian Pig and is cured for at least 3 years. It’s cut thin like a prosciutto. It’s sooooooooo good.

Our last meal in Barcelona. This is a special ribeye that comes out barely seared and then sliced – and you finish it off at the table on the stone to the right, which has a flame under it. Very cool experience and great flavor.

What about Skipper?

Skipper had his own little vacation with his friends at the daycare he goes to.  He stayed there while we were on vacation and had a blast playing every day, and even came home a bit slimmer (a good thing!).  Here are a few photos from his time away from us:

 

That was our vacation.  As you can imagine, I definitely have the post-vacation blues (as does my checking account…yikes).  Luckily, we have a lot to look forward to this fall! Check back next week for my recap of week 1 of marathon training! In the meantime, link up with Jessie and I below:


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Jess

2 Comments

  1. Welcome back! I love all of your photos. I would love to go back to Europe one day. I went to London a few years ago on business but didn’t have any free time to explore. I’d love to go to Spain and Italy one day.

    I love that you did a running tour in each city and can’t wait to read your posts about them 🙂

  2. Welcome back! OMG what an amazing vacation..the FOOD 🙂 And the drinks…

    You guys covered a lot of ground!

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