Eurotrip 2015: 3 Countries, 6 Cities, 2 Weeks

Ugh, can't believe it's been so long since my last post! Sorry to anyone who has been wondering what happened to me during the last month and a half. Life has been incredibly hectic, and I've had very little time to focus on my blogging. 

So what have I been up to lately? Well last month, Jimmy and I took a long-awaited vacation to Europe -- two weeks, six cities, and three countries to be exact, and it was a whirlwind! Definitely one of my favorite trips to date and I already want to do it all over again!

 Roma Colosseum

Roma Colosseum

Rome

We started off in Rome, which is beautiful and set the bar pretty high for the rest of the vacation. I've been to Little Italy in NYC a million times, and I always thought it was some kind of Americanized cliche, but Rome very much brings to life all of the qualities that people love about Little Italy. The cobblestone streets, the quaint little restaurants, the outdoor dining, and the picturesque atmosphere. It was amazing! We loved it and were so sad to leave. 

 Ponte Vecchio Bridge

Ponte Vecchio Bridge

Florence

We hopped on the high speed rail to Florence next. If I was to sum up the city in two words, they would probably be "art" and "leather." We visited the Uffizi Gallery to check out Botticelli's famous "The Birth of Venus" and other Italian Renaissance pieces that I recognized from my art history classes in college. Being there made me wish I had brushed up on all of those historical details so I could appreciate the art even more. A city known for its leather products, we couldn't very well leave without taking advantage of the ridiculously cheap prices. It was shocking to see leather goods being sold at a fraction of the price as they are in the states. While bringing home a new leather jacket was extremely tempting, I settled for a few smaller products instead. We were only in our second city and I was already afraid of running out of luggage space!

 Venetian Gondolas

Venetian Gondolas

Venice

Next and last stop in Italy: Venice. There are no words for how beautiful this city is. Even though it rained nearly the entire time we were there, Venice was absolutely picturesque. Wandering -- and consequently getting lost in -- the quaint little alleyways made getting around an adventure in and of itself. It was so relaxing to be in a city that didn't allow cars, motorbikes, or bicycles and not have to risk your life every time you crossed the street. Seriously! So amazing. We loved everything about Venice and hope we have the chance to return one day. 

 We're engaged! 

We're engaged! 

Paris

Entering the second week of our Eurotrip, we flew to Paris. After a week of learning very basic Italian, we now had to transition to speaking French, and it was HARD! Not only because we knew close to nothing about the language, but also because it's probably one of the most complicated languages to master. And on top of that, a majority of the French people we encountered didn't seem to appreciate our attempt to speak it. We were lucky enough to have a friend in the city who showed us around and gave us a "true Parisian experience" (and also helped with the language barrier,) so it was great to have her around. But the best part of Paris was definitely GETTING ENGAGED! It came as such a shock for me because I thought that things like that only happen in the movies. Ahhhh! It was amazing, and it's something that I'll always look back on and smile :)

 Barcelona Cathedral

Barcelona Cathedral

Barcelona

Next, we flew from Paris to Barcelona, and once again had to transition from one foreign language to another. Spanish was much easier for us to pick up again, so we felt a lot more comfortable communicating with people. I was so looking forward to Barcelona because I've heard tons of great things about the city. The architecture is beautiful and the food (if you love seafood) is delicious. I was on a mission to eat as much octopus and croquettes as possible, which wasn't very hard because they were EVERYWHERE. Love it!

 

 Barnacles, one of the most bizarre-looking foods I've eaten to date.  

Barnacles, one of the most bizarre-looking foods I've eaten to date.  

Madrid

Last stop on our whirlwind Eurotrip was Madrid. I have to admit I wasn't expecting much from the city. After having planned five other itineraries, I didn't have a lot of time or energy to focus on Madrid. But wow, this city was great. I loved it way more than Barcelona because it reminded me of the Spanish version of Rome. Overall, Madrid was much easier to navigate on foot (when you don't account for the heat or the sudden hills) and I felt much safer walking around most areas than I did in Barcelona. I loved the city so much and I wish we were able to spend more time there. I could use more octopus, croquettes, and of course cava, in my life!

So that sums up our entire trip. I have so much more to say but this post is already long enough. If you've made it to the end then I applaud your devotion, and thank you! Right now we are back in the routine of normal life (boo) and just trying to enjoy the summer -- the first one that we're engaged! We haven't started much wedding planning yet but there will be enough of that coming in the next two years that I'm savoring this stress-free time now!

Cheers, I'll try to make it back soon so I can start posting recipes and getting back into my groove again! 

Los Angeles, I'll be back

NYC has been having one of the coldest winters from what I can remember in the last few years. 20-degree weather, snow every week, and general misery has been the ongoing theme so far in 2015. It sucks, but it made me so thankful that I booked a long weekend in LA for last weekend. It ended up being one of the most frigid days of the season in NY, so I chose the perfect time to drop in. I love NYC to death, but I'll trade these below-freezing temps for a weekend 80-degree weather in a heartbeat. 

It was my first time visiting LA and there were so many things I wanted to see and do. Unfortunately I was only there for 4 days, but I loved every minute and I can't wait to go back. Sadly I didn't have enough time to do everything on my list, but it leaves me a lot to look forward to upon my return to the West Coast. 

Some highlights: 


Thanksgiving Travels

Wow, it's been super busy around here lately. I've done a fair amount of traveling during the last week and now I'm finally home to breathe for a moment before returning to work. 

Part I: The Ngais Do Vegas

The weekend before Thanksgiving, my family and I flew to Las Vegas for four days. This marks our third family trip to Sin City, which may seem a bit odd for a family destination, but we love it. It turned out that I wouldn't be seeing them for Thanksgiving, so it was nice to spend that time with them. So for four days straight, the Ngais did what we do best: EAT. Here's a few highlights: 

 

 Mandatory stop at In-N-Out

Mandatory stop at In-N-Out

 Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace. I ate all the oysters and I have no regrets.

Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace. I ate all the oysters and I have no regrets.

 Dinner at Bachi Burger: oxtail chili cheese fries 

Dinner at Bachi Burger: oxtail chili cheese fries 

 Kimchi Burger at Bachi Burger. The best!

Kimchi Burger at Bachi Burger. The best!

 Killing time at the Bellagio Conservatory while everyone hits the slots

Killing time at the Bellagio Conservatory while everyone hits the slots

 Back to NY! Flying over the Rockies

Back to NY! Flying over the Rockies

While we did spend a decent amount of time eating, my family made sure to save time to gamble. I was the only one to opt out, and I'm glad I did because everyone lost money. We also saw a Cirque du Soleil show, Mystère, which was great. When I got back to NY, it was time to pack up and head out again -- this time to Hot Springs, VA.

Part II: Thanksgiving in Virginia

My boyfriend's family planned a family reunion over the Thanksgiving holiday so we traveled to Hot Springs, VA to spend a long weekend at a house on the Omni Homestead Resort. It was four days of great food, endless booze, and tons of laughter. We made do with the freezing temps and snowy weather to enjoy an outdoor hayride and explore the area. Here are some Virginia highlights: 

 Jimmy pretending to be pensive for the Instagram

Jimmy pretending to be pensive for the Instagram

 Warm Springs, VA

Warm Springs, VA

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 Thanskgiving Place Setting

Thanskgiving Place Setting

 Thanksgiving Dinner. Wishing I had gone back for seconds!

Thanksgiving Dinner. Wishing I had gone back for seconds!

 Staying warm by the fire :)

Staying warm by the fire :)

 Ready for Christmas at the Homestead Resort

Ready for Christmas at the Homestead Resort

 Bundled up for a Homestead Hayride, sporting our usual faces

Bundled up for a Homestead Hayride, sporting our usual faces

 Eskimo Lady

Eskimo Lady

After an entire week of being away, it feels great to be home! Happy Thanksgiving!

Greetings!

Hi friends, family, strangers, and Internet stalkers! This is my first official blog entry, and I have to admit that I never thought I'd be a blogger, but I suppose it can't hurt to give it a shot. I'm new to the game but I look forward to updating this thing with my current projects, photographs, culinary adventures, and other tidbits of inspiration. :)

On that note, NY is having some fabulous summer weather to kick off the fall season. Last weekend my boyfriend and I spent some time upstate in Hudson Valley visiting Mohonk Mountain House, where I had my first rock scrambling experience. I go to the gym regularly and consider myself to be in fairly good shape, but this was a lot more physically intense than I expected. Also, it was completely terrifying as I have a fear of heights. In the end I'm glad I did it. The views were amazing and reaching the top was a huge accomplishment for me.

 SkyTop Tower

SkyTop Tower

 At the tippy top of SkyTop via the Labyrinth Trail

At the tippy top of SkyTop via the Labyrinth Trail

 The view that made everything worth it

The view that made everything worth it

 On the way up. Selfies are always appropriate ;)

On the way up. Selfies are always appropriate ;)

Thanks for tuning in and I hope you'll be back for more!