Happy New Year + Trip Video

Posted: January 13th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: News | No Comments »

Hi everyone! 2014 was a crazy fun-filled ride. The last few weeks have been full of family, celebrations, and general gearing up for 2015, so I’ve been MIA here. One of the the projects I was working on the last couple months was a slideshow of our trip. So many people have asked to see our pictures and hear our stories, and I never know how to begin. How do I sum up all the things I’ve experienced? I can tell some of our stories, but I’m always afraid that once I start, I’ll never be able to stop. I can show the pictures and videos. But who wants to sit through thousands of photos and a hundred short videos? So, I spent some time sorting through everything, organizing it, and creating the 25-minute slideshow you’ll see below:

(If the video doesn’t work, you can click here to be taken to the YouTube page.)

My focus in choosing what would be a part of this was threefold:

1. Give a taste of the distinct flavor each country has, both a wide perspective and the nitty-gritty details.
2.Show the commonalities that these disparate countries had with each other. Some things are universal (or at least quite common).
3. Show some of the more unique things we enjoyed in particular. Or things that I found interesting and/or funny. 


And don’t worry, I’m still going to keep posting about our trip until I run out of things to say.

Happy New Years! I hope your 2015 is full of fun, adventure, new experiences, and lots of love!

“Wild Magic” in the UK

Posted: December 11th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: News | No Comments »

I’ve been frenetically working on a project related to our trip over the last few weeks. I’m hoping to unveil it in a couple weeks. I’ve also been exploring the possibility of writing about our travels in a venue outside of this blog. While I won’t stop posting on this blog for a good long time, I’m excited to have a piece of mine published on the “We Said Go” travel website. It’s about a moment of time I experienced while in Wales. Check it out: Wild Magic in the UK.

Munich: Balanced between Past and Present

Posted: December 10th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: ATW Updates | No Comments »

After Italy, we embarked on this large roundabout path through the rest of  Europe, with Munich as our first stop. When Rick asked his German coworkers which city in Germany to visit, the consensus was always Munich, so we knew we had experience the home of Oktoberfest. Unfortunately (or fortunately for our finances), we couldn’t wait until then. Instead, we arrived just in time to take part in Mardi Grad celebrations.



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Reflections on Italy: Conversations with a Local

Posted: November 25th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: ATW Updates | No Comments »


I spent a couple days on the tail end of our unexpected month-long jaunt into Italy in Verona with an email-pal friend of mine, Michele. We’d been corresponding for over a decade, and he always wanted me to visit him in Italy. When we changed our plans at the last moment, I emailed him to let him know we were swinging by. He welcomed us with a home-cooked meal, a delicious powdered-sugar cake, a warm bed down beside the kitchen, and a lot of great conversation.

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5 Offbeat Things to Visit in Italy

Posted: November 11th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: ATW Updates | No Comments »

Once we’ve been to the Parthenon and the Colosseum, visited the Uffizi, and looked up at Juliet’s balcony, it was time to find the hidden sights and sounds of Italy that others don’t quite talk about as much. Most of these were churches we wandered in and out of, because Italy (and Rome especially) are packed with churches full of gorgeous religious art. Here are a few things we did that were certainly unexpected but super interesting:

Dome of St. Ignatius, Rome


Built in the 17th century, The Church of St. Ignatius was over-budget. So, instead of building a grandiose dome, Andrea Pozzo, a Jesuit lay brother, painted a dome with a tromp-l‘oeil effect. When we looked up from any angle, it looked like a dome stretched up above us. Our brains just couldn’t seem to understand that we were actually looking at a flat surface. If you go visit it, there’s a small box  on the side where you can enter 1 Euro, and the dome is lit up for a short period of time. The rest of the church (free to enter) is beautiful also, full of art and another tromp-l‘oeil mosaic by Pozzo.

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Italian Art

Posted: October 6th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: ATW Updates | No Comments »

When many people think about classic art and art history, one of the first places they think about is Italy. And why not? Leonardo Da Vinci, Raphael, Donatello, Michaelangelo, and many others the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles aren’t named after. Today, art still plays a large part in Italian culture. So, I thought I’d take you on a quick spin through some of the art we saw in Italy, and the roles they played and still play today.

Art is, and will always be, a form of earning money for the artists. Whether they’re spray-painting the Coliseum for passing tourists:


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Random Roundup: 10/3/2014

Posted: October 3rd, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Roundup | No Comments »


Now that I’m back, I’ve gone back to ogling travel destinations & news, already dreaming of another trip or two. I thought I’d share some of my more interesting finds with you in these random roundups.

Here are the things that caught my eye this week:

"17 stunning places you can visit on Google Maps": it’s not quite the same, but if you have the urge and cant get away at the moment.

"Europe’s first floating hotel": Sign me up for this hotel if I ever win the lottery. I’ve always dreamed of seeing the Aurora Borealis.

"How to Charter a Boat for Travel": A different way of exploring the world. If you can sail, even better!

"A Traveller’s Guide to Tap Water": an infographic showing which countries have safe tap water for drinking, or if you should be careful. Though my philosophy is “When in doubt, boil or sterilize”. You can never go wrong doing that.

"An Eagle’s Eye view to Mongolia: video of a flight over Mongolia from a golden eagle’s perspective. Because I miss the Mongolian landscape.

Vatican City

Posted: October 1st, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: ATW Updates | No Comments »

The initial reason we detoured to Italy (and then ended up staying a whole month) was to visit Vatican City, the smallest internationally recognized independent state in the world by both area & population. Our tour guide said it’s also the only absolute monarchy left in Europe. Technically, everything (including tourists’ belongings) belongs to Pope Francis as soon as it enters the area. Good thing he seems to be a benevolent dictator. We arrived (a bit late) on Sunday where the Pope gave a papal blessing. You should check it out, on Sundays at 12pm, when he’s in town. He also has audiences on Wednesdays, but you have to get (free!) tickets to it, and the line was sort-of reaching ridiculous proportions by the time we tried.


St. Peters Square was crowded, the rhythms of various languages weaving in and out, interspersed with intermittent strains of singing. There was a certain energy lurking in the air. Perhaps, it’s the palpable energy of faith. Perhaps, just excitement.

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Italian Food

Posted: September 29th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: ATW Updates | No Comments »

I love Italian food. It’s my favorite food, and I could probably eat Italian food every day of my life and be ok. Fat, but ok. So, I’m dedicating a post to Italian food, authentic from Italy. There won’t be as much writing, just a lot of food pictures, which you probably prefer anyways.

Pizza is synonymous with Italy. Here in Italy, you’ll either go fancy and order a whole pizza for yourself or you go fast-food style. The fancy pizzas come laden with yummy toppings and delicious sauce. As you’ll notice, unless you order a cheese pizza, you won’t get much gooey cheese. Also, it’ll arrive unsliced, and you’ll be expected to eat with a knife and fork. Don’t go all barbarian on your pizza as I did (yes, I even dared lick my fingers). Also, since pizzas get cold quickly, it’s actually polite NOT to wait for everyone to get their food before chowing down on yours. Eat whenever you get your food.


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Colosseum Culture

Posted: September 16th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: ATW Updates | No Comments »


The Colosseum of Rome, also called the Flavian Amphitheater for the dynasty of emperors that oversaw its build, is one of the must-see spots of this ancient city. Construction began in 70 AD under the Emperor Vespasian. It’s an iconic symbol of Ancient Rome, proclaiming its might & power. In fact, there’s a map painted inside of the entire Roman empire, with key cities highlighted (you may recognize a few of them from our previous posts).

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