Archive for the Vacations Category

Last Night of Cape May…Britney Spears

Posted in Daily Pictures, Vacations with tags , , on August 14, 2011 by Verge

Yep, that’s right, you read that correctly.  We headed to Atlantic City to see Britney on our last night of vacation (Britney Spears Atlantic City 8-6-2011).  Now, you might think that it is completely normal for Monika to want to see Britney because, well, that’s the music she grew up on…and it is.  You also might think that my taste in music is questionable for also wanting to see Britney as much as Monika, and I guess that’s kind of valid.  But honestly, I love all kinds of music…yes, even country sometimes.  Britney is a pop superstar.  She is one of, if not the best pop star of my generation.  I’ve never seen her before, and it was a perfect opportunity to close our vacation with a concert in AC.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The concert was wonderful, even though she lip syncs a ton of it.  And even Lady Gaga was there to hang out with all of us.  Our tickets were cheap by today’s standards (62 a piece, compared to the 110 a piece for the Taylor Swift show in Philly the same night), the venue was awesome (Boardwalk Hall, which I had never been to), and we got to see Britney perform 20 or so of our favorite pop songs of the last decade (some of which you can check out here, albeit poor quality).  Well worth the money.

We had car trouble leaving the parking garage at 11 at night, and by the time we got home to Cape May, everyone was asleep.  But one last story.  When we got home, Kreg and Kat were asleep on the couches, not in their bed.  Kreg stirred and got up, clearly confused as to where he was.  As Monika and I began to make ourselves a nightcap, he wandered outside.  I chased after him, knowing that he had no idea he was outside.  I found him trying to get into the pool area, unsuccessfully because he was sleep walking.  He informed me that he was going to the bathroom, which was not in that direction whatsoever.  I laughed my ass off as he fumbled with the gate lock!

Eventually, after I had my hilarious question and answer session with Kreg, I led him back inside to the actual bathroom.  That’s what friends are for right?  Monika and I had a martini and talked about the Britney show for an hour or so while everyone else slept their last night in Cape May.  What a week, and this blog only skimmed the surface.  And we’ll do it again…stay tuned.

Cape May Continued…Cape May Winery

Posted in Daily Pictures, Good Times, Vacations with tags , , on August 10, 2011 by Verge

Kreg and Kat came to spend a night or two at the house, to play some pool, swim in the pool, and have some fun…

hmmm...what can we do that might be fun, and involve alcohol?

let's visit a Winery!!!

got us some drinks...for free!

all right, there's not much to say about this photo

this is much more adorable

at Cape May, we were allowed to hang out in the vineyards, and explore the winery

flowers among the grapes

there was a band on the back deck who was quite entertaining

and we hung out there, among the grapevines, in the wind among bamboo from the Atlantic, sipping local spirits...

...among friends

Cape May Continued…Cape May Lighthouse

Posted in Daily Pictures, Vacations with tags , , on August 9, 2011 by Verge

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Cape May Continued…Turdo Vineyards

Posted in Daily Pictures, Good Times, Vacations with tags , , , on August 8, 2011 by Verge

After visiting the Cape May Lighthouse, we found one of the two local wineries in Cape May, Turdo Vineyards.

Much like Valenzano, the tasting room is around the back of the owners beatiful home.

the tasting room, which came with a rather attractive wine server and a delicious assortment of red wines, and an amazing dessert white.

looking into the vineyards and a sunny, beatiful day...

and looking down the driveway. the tasting room also sold wine by the glass, and had this very quant European-like outdoor cafe.

New Year’s Road Trip, Part 1: Letchworth State Park

Posted in Good Times, Vacations with tags , , on January 7, 2011 by Verge

we headed off to upstate NY for a weekend of craziness

we rented a cabin in the woods. I wonder how many times they had to scrub blood off the floors before the cabin warranted this sign?

but, actually, the cabin was awesome. three rooms, electricity, fridge, stove...but no running water.

 

this is about how far we had to walk to the bathrooms, which where also surprisingly nice...and warm.

this is the real reason we came. This is the Grand Canyon of the East.

I know that there is another one somewhere in PA, but maybe next time we'll go there

this Grand Canyon was pretty damn good for us this trip. It was cold, but we layered up pretty well.

we hiked from lower all the way to upper falls, about a 3 mile round trip.

Kreg and Monika decided to cross a frozen stream while Kat and I decided to worry.

underneath the bridge, the tarp has sprung a leak

This is a track of the entire day.  It includes the car ride out of the park from our campground, to the left towards the falls, the entire hike, and our trip back to the cabin.

we tracked down some wood behind the cabin and started a campfire, pretty much a must while camping, no matter how cold.

we were the only ones in the campground with a fire, even though lots of people were out drinking on their porches, so we kind of became the center of attention.

so, of course, we built the largest fire we could for the hell of it.

After we burned all the wood, we went inside and played some dominoes.  and drank…a lot.  We were in bed early for the drive to Ohio for New Years Eve the next night.  Monika paid the price dearly.

 

!!!!!

As always, the full set of pix from this leg of our road trip can be found right here!

Italian Vacation 2010, Day 6

Posted in Vacations with tags on November 11, 2010 by Verge

We spent the night just outside of Tivoli at a pretty decent joint.  Since we were outside of the city, there were little places to eat without driving, so we ate at the restaurant hotel.  They had a little bar off the lobby where there was wifi reception, so we had some drinks there while Gisela watched the Phillies game on her laptop.

The next morning, we checked out and headed to Hadrian’s Villa (or Villa Adriana, I’m still not sure why languages like to translate proper nouns.  It baffles me.  I practically didn’t even know Venezia was actually Venice!).

This complex of buildings was Hadrian's vacation house from Rome. It was built almost 2000 years ago, and is now just ruins, mostly unexcavated. This is a swimming pool.

When we got there, we had no idea the scale of the site. We all assumed it would be a few building foundations, a few columns here and there. It was huge, with a more amazing site quite literally around every turn. It was so expansive, it was very easy to get lost.

This is one of two huge reflecting pools. It was originally lined with columns and statues. I'm not talking a few. I mean hundreds. Everything was once covered with marble or mosaics, some of which you can still see. Even the ground was all marble mosaics...everywhere. If it was still in it's original condition, it would be one of the grandest estates in the world, without question.

Here is a video I took from one of the courtyards.

We spent a good 3 hours there, and I took a ton of pictures which you can see over here on Facebook.  Then we headed to the city center to grab some lunch.

We had lunch right on the street outside a small cafe/bar. There was an open-air market behind us and we could hear the music while we ate. Monika and I wanted to stay and explore the city some more because it looked pretty cool, but we had places to go, so off we went.

We stopped at what is called the Apian Way, a kind of turnpike that was built by the Romans and can still be seen in places that haven’t been developed or paved over.  Near that was a cathedral under which there were catacombs.  They were not the first underground burial sites, but they were the first to be called catacombs, and it was centuries later that the word began to be applied to all underground cemeteries.  Of course, no pictures in there, but it was pretty damn interesting and fun.

It was a fine day, and Monika and I were excited because we knew tomorrow, our last full day in Italy, we were finally going to Rome.

Italian Vacation 2010, Day 5

Posted in Vacations with tags on November 10, 2010 by Verge

Monika’s parents wanted to go to a historical site and thought we might not be interested since we weren’t really all read up on the Etruscan ruins that they were interested in.  Instead of going with them, we headed to Sienna.

Monika and Maya goofing around at the rest stop. This place was packed, and they sold cheap wine, too. I picked up four bottles of red wine for like 10 bucks. Granted, it wasn't the best wine around, but it was local, and it did have alcohol in it.

There is a church here that is named after some chick who apparently was a saint. I guess they really loved her. They have her finger cut off and on display. It looks like a brown crayon after a dog chewed it up. What's even more bizarre is the fact that they also have her entire head, in a box, also on display. Since I couldn't take any pictures of her head, You get this, the fabulous view from outside the church.

The four of us stopped for lunch at the center piazza. It was very wide open with cafes all around the edges, which is pretty typical in Italy. Lunch was great, and so was the beer. We took our time. It was nice to be around so many people just hanging out, relaxing and enjoying the summer like weather.

Here’s a one minute video of how beautiful it was.  You can see Gisela at the very end waving her arms at me.

I guess I could have asked strangers to take pictures of us, but I honestly don't mind the cheesy self portraits at all. I think it's kinda cute.

Lunch with the Shanfeld sisters. I ordered a Negroni which are pretty typical drinks in Italy. She brought me a brown drink. I tried to send it back, and she told me it was what I ordered. It wasn't. It was a rum and coke, which we got compliments once the bartender realized his mistake. I got my Negroni, too, and it was delicious.

 

After lunch, we had gelato. It was the same price per cone no matter what flavor you wanted. Consequently, we ordered macadamia nut and shared a cone.

Go see the rest of the pix over here!

Italian Vacation 2010, Day 4

Posted in Daily Pictures, Vacations with tags on November 9, 2010 by Verge

We packed up in Bologna, and hit the road towards Venice, which is about 3 hours northeast. When we got to the dock, the boat to take us to Venice was still half an our away.

Let's drink! Seriously, though, when I opened my suitcase to get out the bottle of wine and beer I had stowed, I discovered that the bottle of beer had leaked, making most of my shirts smell more like beer than the regular whiskey smell. Not big deal. Aired them out later. Drank beer immediately.

Venice has no roads with cars, only canals. We sung "I'm on a Boat" all the way to the dock.

This is the center of Venice, St. Marks Square. An amazing church that I only wish I could share photos of. And lots of open air cafes and tourists, to be honest.

This is a glimpse into the extensiveness of the interior. Every surface is marble, or gold, or granite. In every style. This shows the diversity of the columns on the front corner of the church.

We went a bit off the beaten path to grab lunch at a small cafe. The paninis were great....

...and so were the drinks.

This is like the South Street of Venice. I guess it's a bit touristy, and there's no doubt about that, but it's still beautiful anyway, and I love crowds.

But we found a borderline Steampunk Bar, and Monika and I enjoyed some delicious cocktails and free sushi!

I think the touristy thing settles down, and the vendors go home at night, but....

we headed back to Bologna, where we met this guy, who apparently exchanged free drinks at the hotel bar for the opportunity to put his arms around young, American girls.

As always, check the entire photo gallery of day four here.

Italian Vacation 2010, Day 3

Posted in Vacations with tags , , on November 6, 2010 by Verge

So, we packed in the morning planning on touring Pisa all day and then heading somewhere else, to be determined.

This is the back of our hotel during the day. I know that seems odd that I'm including another picture of our hotel, but this place was truly unique. They had open areas on each story with artificial turf and lounging areas. It really was a kick ass place to sleep, if only for a single night.

Obviously, the Leaning Tower is the place to go, so I got the map and Ira drove, and we wound ourselves to the other side of the city.

Monika and Schmoo as we approach the beautiful center of Pisa.

this is one of the rarer pictures of me and Mon without my arms in the picture. that is to say, someone else took it!

this is the outside of a church. The best pictures are the inside, but that's not allowed.

A shot from the top of the tower. It's not easy to get up there, and it certainly does make one a little uneasy as well.

I wonder how many people over the years have fallen over the rails. There really is nothing stopping you, and considering it's leaning a good deal more than you think, it's pretty simple to lose your balance.

This was a good vantage point to find a place to find a beer.

Found it!  A great little cafe.  This place was so damn cool they had wine on tap!

Every town has a church or two, but this one is over a thousand years old (and, they allowed photographs).

The reason that most major cities are built near rivers is because it gives tourists incredible photo opportunities!

After a long day, we left Pisa and headed to Bologna, where we found another great hotel and a place close by to have dinner. By this time, we'd decided to head to Venice the next morning. But, that night...we did a bit or partying in our rooms as the city was completely asleep.

See all of the photos from day 3 over here on Facebook.

Italian Vacation 2010 Day 1 & 2

Posted in Vacations with tags , , on November 5, 2010 by Verge

We hadn’t planned on going on a huge vacation overseas this year at all, but we couldn’t really resist when Monika’s family insisted that we join them on their trip to Italy.  I had been there once when I was 12, and Monika had never been there.  We couldn’t go for as long as the rest of the family, but we headed to the airport on Friday afternoon for our flight from Philadelphia direct to Rome.

We had to pack pretty lightly because all six of us had to share one mini van when we arrived and traveled around Italy. This was all our luggage. One checked bag a piece, and a couple of carry-ons.

By some insane stroke of luck, as we walked into the airport to check in, I ran into my first cousin, once removed, and his beautiful girlfriend Simona. They invited us to the private club for frequent flyers. This shit wash posh. Free food. Dollar wine and beer, and martinis (a lot of them)! They are awesome.

but don't think for a minute that that may have stopped us from the drinks on the plane. We had to sleep, because our usually time to go to sleep at 1 am was when we would be landing in Rome, ready for a long day of being a tourist.

We landed outside of Rome and were picked up by Monika’s dad and mom, and older and younger sisters.  We promptly left Rome and headed north, towards Grosetto. This was technically now the start of day two, since it was now Saturday.  We really didn’t have a plan on where we were heading.  I know that doesn’t sound like something I would do, or could do, but that’s how we rolled on this trip.  After a few hours of driving without a definite destination, we got lunch.

the waiter here was drunk, and that was awesome. He sang and danced and helped us stumble through our poor Italian. We had wonderful food on an amazingly beautiful, summer-like afternoon.

Finally, after 4 long hours, I had my first beer in Italy. And then a second.

The center of Grosetto, like every damn Italian city, is beautiful and filled with all kinds of historic buidlings and churches.

After some exploring in the castle and general hijinks, we found our way back to the car and headed to Livorno, a stop on the way to Pisa, which at lunch we cemented as our destination for the day.

We stopped at a roadside bar for a bathroom break, and found that the back deck had an amazing view of the Terranean Sea.

...

Livorno had few nice things to see, but overall, it was just a pit stop on the way to Pisa.

So, we did drive around Pisa a bit aimlessly for a while, and after the first hotel was a dud, I took over driving.  In Italy you drive on the right side of the road and it’s pretty much the same as driving in any American city.  I enjoy driving and I wasn’t that upset that it took us almost half an hour to find a hotel we could stay in, and the one we found was amazing.

the entire hotel was wrapped in a glass shell that was illuminated from the inside and slowly changed colors.

and the interior was like the set of A Space Oddysey

We partied well that night.  We had dinner at a restaurant that was walking distance and had great food and drinks.  Later, we scored tonic water there and had Saphire and tonics in the hotel room with the duty free gin we got on the plane earlier that day.  It was an amazing first day.  We had already been in 3 different cities, had beer and cocktails, and we were spending the night in a hotel from the future in Pisa.  We slept well.

All of my pictures from the first leg of this adventure can be found here on Facebook.

%d bloggers like this: