Europe 2015 – Part 3: Venice

This is the third in a three part series about our recent trip to Europe. Find Part 1: Paris here and Part 2: London here.

[Wow, sorry for the incredible delay, guys! Oh well, better late than never. Here is the conclusion of our trip to Europe!]

I was particularly excited about visiting Venice, since I wouldn’t be working at all and it was the only city this trip that I hadn’t previously visited.

We arrived at Venice Marco Polo Airport in the late morning and had to decide how we would get to our hotel: a private water taxi (most expensive at €55 per person and quickest), a shared water taxi (still fairly expensive at €30 per person), or a water shuttle (least expensive at €15 per person and biggest time suck). We decided on the water shuttle, which would allow us to see quite a bit of Venice from as we made our way around the main island towards our hotel.

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Travelers’ Tip: Do some research on the public water shuttles, Alilaguna, prior to your trip. You’ll need them to get to and from the airport, and to the other islands surrounding Venice. Trip Advisor had a nice writeup of your options upon arriving at Marco Polo. Continue reading

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Europe 2015 – Part 2: London

This is the second in a three part series about our recent trip to Europe. Find Part 1: Paris here.

We left Paris the same way we arrived: by train. We jumped on the metro and then connected to a Eurostar train on its way to London. We made it to London in a little over an hour via the Chunnel, which is about as exciting as it sounds.

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Once we reached London, we each bought Oyster cards to use on the tube system. While Paris is very walkable, London is much more spread out and it’s more efficient (and easy) to use the tubes.

Travelers’ Tip: Download a tube app (I like Tube Tamer) that will help you navigate the tube system, and always have a sense of the nearest tube station (especially to your hotel).

Our hotel in London was kind of a bust — I tried to save some money (which was silly, since it was covered by work). It did the job, but I won’t be linking to it because it was just super meh.

The location, however, ended up being a pretty good one: we were near the London Eye, the river, and Waterloo Station, which is where we arrived on the Eurostar and where we would depart to get to the airport. We were just across the river from Parliament, Westminster, and Big Ben, and it was also a central location for the work meetings I had scheduled prior to the trip. Continue reading

Europe 2015 – Part 1: Paris

A lot of friends and family have inquired about our recent trip to Europe. The easiest way to reach the most people is to blog about it, so the following posts will chronicle our trip in three parts — one for each city we visited.

If you’re not into travel tips or vacation photos, feel free to skip these next few posts!

Note: I’m only linking places that were memorable and where we had a nice time, or would be helpful context for the reader. Anything that is omitted is done intentionally.

Part 1: Paris

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past month, you’re aware that there was a terrorist attack in Paris recently. This tragedy unfolded about two weeks before we were set to depart. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little uneasy about travelling at this point, and not just to Paris — getting aboard any overseas flight would have caused the same amount of anxiety for me. Everything turned out fine, thankfully, but it’s always important to be aware of your surroundings and be smart when travelling.

We had a nonstop overnight flight from Detroit to Paris. Neither of us slept all that well, but were excited to land and make our way into the city. After clearing customs (and a two-hour line to do so), we collected our luggage and jumped on the metro.

Travelers’ Tip: Paris’s international airport, Charles de Gaulle, is a 20 mile/hour-long trek from the city center, so you’ll need to have a plan for getting into the city. I have, in the past, utilized a cab service, but it’s pricey. This time I did some research on taking the metro and it ended up being the perfect option for us.

The metro dropped us off about two blocks from our hotel, Legend Hotel. We booked Legend Hotel using the Hotel Tonight app, which specializes in last-minute deals around the world (and you can use promo code MSTIEVE to get $25 off your first booking!). We ended up getting two nights for the price of one. The hotel was fairly standard for Paris: compact, but comfy. The bed was especially welcoming and we ended up napping for a couple of hours after mercifully receiving an early check-in. Continue reading

Honeymoon Redux: Aruba Trip #2

Hi, friends! We’re back from our anniversary trip to Aruba, and it was incredible. We got to do a few of the things that we missed out on last year, and really feel like we know the island a lot better.

I posted a full trip report here, but I’ll throw some more pictures up and give you a rundown of our lodging and dining choices.

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Pit Stop in Pitt: Our Visit to Pittsburgh

Last Sunday Troy and I packed up the car and took off for a much-needed mini vacay to Pittsburgh.

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Why Pittsburgh? We wanted to plan a end-of-the-summer trip somewhere we had never been, within driving distance, and preferably where the Tigers would be playing. But most of all, I wanted to meet up with some new friends for a visit to their hometown.

If you are a Weddingbee follower, you might remember Mrs. Palmtree AKA Stephanie. Steph was the very first bee of the Honeymoon Generation, and I was the second. We bonded over wedding planning, but truly became close friends afterwards, chatting randomly on Facebook about jobs, houses, and furbabies. Steph and her husband Jon invited us to come to Pittsburgh and it was the perfect way to finish out the summer.

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We drove the 5-hour journey without stopping once (!!) and arrived in time for a dinner reservation at Meat & Potatoes. The four of us found that we love sharing food, so we ordered a few small plates and dug in. A marathon of a meal, this was the perfect introduction to Pittsburgh!

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From top left: flatbread pizza, poutine, charcuterie; pork belly tacos, fried chicken livers, toast and jam; burger with egg, kobe beef corn dog, fried pickles

That night Steph and Jon also took us up to Mt. Washington. For anyone who hasn’t been to Pittsburgh, the downtown area is relatively flat, but cross over any of the multiple bridges and you will find yourself in the hills and valleys of the surrounding area. Mt. Washington offered a beautiful view of the city, as well as multiple bars and restaurants. Here we also met up with Miss Parisian AKA Jess, and the Pittsburgh Honeybee Trifecta was complete!

Monday morning we set out to do some sightseeing. I had planned on going to Craftwork Kitchen for breakfast, but we didn’t quite make it there before 10AM, so it was more like a brunch. They were technically closed when we rolled in at 10:30, but were happy to open up just to make us a couple sandwiches.

We drove over to the base of Mt. Washington and took the Monongahela Incline up to the top, then walked the mile to the Duquesne Incline for the trip back down.

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After that we spent some time driving around and trying to avoid the rainclouds. Luckily, by the time we picked up Steph and Jon, the weather was improving and we had sunshine the rest of the day.

Lunch was at the famous Primanti Bros and was more food than I needed, but so delicious.

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We walked to the area of bars around PNC Park, met up with Jess and her boyfriend, Alex, and enjoyed some libations and people watching. My favorite stop was Rivertowne Brewing where I got to try some of their Hala Kahiki (pineapple beer) — so, so good. Another new beer on the trip was IC Light — they had a mango flavor I really liked, too! Apparently I like fruity beer — who knew?!

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Time for a quick 30-by-30 update: Monday night we took in a Tigers game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. While the game wasn’t so great, the park was beautiful and the pierogies were exquisite!

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After the game, we said goodbye to our friends. Even though we’ve known each other for a while, it was never a guarantee that we would get along in “real” life, but I’m so happy we all meshed so well. I hope they can come visit us in Michigan once the house is done!

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We were heading home on Tuesday, but not before the customary stops at Chick-Fil-A and the zoo. We love to visit the zoos in the cities we travel to, and the Pittsburgh Zoo was a great addition to the list — not too big, not too small, lots of very active animals.

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The drive home was uneventful (lots of NPR), but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the great Asian restaurant we stopped at in Toledo on the way home. QQ Kitchen was packed (well, there are less than twenty seats in the whole place), and we soon understood why — Y-U-M. Check it out if you are in the area.

Special thanks to our friends in Pittsburgh for showing us such a good time; to my guest photographer, Steph; and to my personal chauffeur who will never, ever let me drive on road trips.