Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Book Case Book Club

I love books. I love books scattered about, as decor, to read and on an epic book case.

Every month we have our book club (that's been meeting for 5 years now, I can't believe it's been that long!!) I love book club and I look forward to the challenge of completing at least one book a month. Sometime I read every page, sometimes I don't get to read at all, but I still enjoy our meetings regardless. I think the biggest difficulty is finding a book almost everyone likes and will read so that we can discuss it. We all take turns hosting and basically there's a good core of 10-11 of us who always attend and always host each year. March is my month so I did some researching to select a good book and finally decided on Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. I loved it and couldn't put it down and I've heard some chatting amongst members that they like the book too!! I can't wait to discuss tonight!

Because we read mostly fiction I want to imagine all different types of book cases. I think this book would look excellent on a book case like this:

 Have you read Me Before You? Do you have any other book recommendations?


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Rome: Day 4

On our final full day in Rome we wanted to tour the Colosseum so we had booked a tour online and headed off to begin our tour. We really only did tours in Rome because I don't have much knowledge about Roman culture and its history is so in depth and ancient it's hard to grasp the reality of it sometimes! The tours tend to be decent, but usually lacking and really short. You learn a few facts and wham, it's over. I think if you can find some tours for a good price I'd look into them, or even look for apps and things that you can do on your own. I really loved the private tour we listened to at the Louvre and I'm sure there are things out there that I just did not look into.. next time though!!

This is actually the REAL name of the Colosseum, Amphitheater Flavim.
Then of course we had to get lunch after our tour. We found a little pizza shop off the beaten path and had wonderful pizza! Fresh buffalo mozzarella for me!!

After lunch we continued to the ancient ruins as our ticket from the Colosseum included free entry into the ruins of the Roman Forum and Palantine Hill. A lot of this was overwhelming for me, but it was neat to see the final resting place of Julius Cesare!

I also looked up Anthony Bourdain's recommendations again and was able to get gelato from one of the best gelaterias in Rome!! YAY! Gracchi! It was also close to our b&b!!

After an exhausting day of walking around Rome we headed back to our hotel to gather our thoughts and decide on dinner. Of course I start searching and searching the internet for a really unique meal for our last dinner in Europe. I came across a restaurant called Romeo that was near our hotel and we thought we'd walk by and see what we thought.

 Below is the most amazing proscuitto and FRESH buffalo mozzarella and they gave us complimentary FRESH ricotta that tasted like absolute HEAVEN.. OMG it was SO good!!
A classic Italian cocktail, the Negroni!
Amazing fresh pasta!!
Sausage stuffed calamari!! YUM!
We also realized we never had tiramisu in Rome so of course we ordered it, and this is what came out!! We made a video of how this bad boy opened but I can't find it, but let me just tell you, it was amazing!! It really did taste like tiramisu too, even if it doesn't look remotely like the cakey substance we're accustomed to here in the U.S. Ultimately, if you couldn't tell, I would HIGHLY recommend you visit Romeo if you're ever in Rome. Even though it looks fancy, it wasn't over priced and it was amazingly delicious!!

The next morning it was off to the airport to leave Europe and end our 2.5 week trip.. I was definitely sad to give up our relaxed lifestyle of eating when we wanted, drinking when we wanted (at every lunch!) and just doing what we wanted. It was also nice getting to spend every day with hubs. Although Rome really tested my patience with him, but it wasn't just him it was also Rome testing my patience.. As you can tell Rome was not my favorite city we visited. To be honest it was my least favorite city. It just didn't agree with me and I wouldn't be in a hurry to visit again. I knew I wasn't too found of going in the first place so I hate to think it was my preconceived notions, but it was just the lack of hospitality, the overwhelming amount of tourists and the overall amount of garbage and broken glass everywhere making the city dirty. I know people love Rome and I can see potential I really can, but it just didn't capture my heart. I really wish we had visited Florence instead, but we can save that for next time. We did get yummy pizza and gelato so that's a win in my book. But the pictures prove it is a beautiful city!!

I just can't wait to get back to Europe though. I want to explore France more, I'd like to visit Germany, England, Austria, Belgium, Greece.. the list goes on and on!! And hubs and I agree we'd go back to Venice in a heart beat! Of course we'd love to go back anywhere in France.. We still can't get over how much we loved it! We actually just bought a learn French CD too so hopefully we can brush up with the French visit Raleigh in September!!

What's your ideal Europe trip?! Where have you been that you'd recommend? Where do you want to go? I'd LOVE to know your thoughts!!

Hope you enjoyed #dillmanstakeeurope #dillmanstravel ;)


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Rome: Day 3

Day three in Rome was dedicated to visiting the Vatican. Before we had left for our trip we were looking through our credit cards and opening a new card that would help us acquire points, but also has no foreign transaction fees while abroad. While we were doing so I also realized I had points on another card. I realized we could use our points for tours so we booked a tour of St. Peter's Basilica. We took an 8/9:00 appointment to get our tour underway before it became too busy. (If you book a tour, go through the security line, into the front of the Basilica and there is a big table that has different tour groups.) It took us a minute to find our beginning location but we found it, picked up our headphones and were off on our tour. The basilica is very grandeur and overwhelming. I don't have a lot of knowledge of Catholicism but it was very beautiful being amongst so much history. (That and I could relate to watching Angels and Demons.. whoops!)
It's hard to fathom but all the letters around the top trim are actually larger than most people. The letters are all 6 feet tall! Definitely helps you grasp the enormity of St. Peter's Basilica!
Still not sure about the whole entombed Pope thing.. This is really the body of a deceased Pope.
It became a ritual to rub this pope's foot and your sins would be cleansed.. why not?! His foot was almost rubbed off!
 This picture just makes me think of Ewen McGregor in Angels and Demons by Dan Brown..
Everyone loves to see the Swiss Guards in their amazing outfits! After our tour of the Basilica we inquired about the Vatican museum tours. We opted not to do an official tour and just wander around the museum on our own, but FIRST it was lunch!!

On high recommendation from friends, and also Anthony Bourdain, we headed off to Pizzarium Bonci! Created by chef Bonci, this is not your average pizza joint even in American terms. There is no where to sit and the pizza is actually CUT (with scissors) by the slice! It is also weighed so you must tell them how big or small you want your slice. They use the most fresh and seasonal ingredients so all the pizzas are different. They claim he's invented 1,500 different pizzas! The best pizza must come from good dough and the dough at Pizzarium must rise for over 24 hours and is a recipe that's over 200 years old. You must try different slices and always try the simple tomato sauce because although simple, it's amazing. The longer you sit there the more pizzas come out and you wish you could eat ALL of them!! And don't forget your beer or wine off to the side, they have great craft beers and great wine! Pizzarium is a MUST VISIT!!!
If there's anything I would teach anyone visiting Europe in general, EAT YOUR MEATS! Especially the pork.. you see that proscuitto?! YUM! Eat all your charcuterie, you won't regret it!! Then you'll get back to the US and won't be able to find anything as good.. sad!

Then it was back to the Vatican to tour the museum!
Had to be immature because this statue above is so silly to me!! We really did not take in this museum as you should but we had a hard time concentrating on all the religious art as most of Europe is consumed in it and it all starts to look the same.. After a while we just really wanted to get to the Sistine Chapel and see what it had to offer.
I don't have any pictures of the Sistine Chapel because they're not allowed, although people are ALWAYS taking photos. It's also supposed to be a quiet place although they are herding you into the room like a bunch of cattle where you can't move and they're forcing you to move so you can't actually take in the grandeur because it's overshadowed by the mass amounts of people, yelling guards, and asking you to be quiet.. By FAR the most touristy place we visited was the Vatican. It was overwhelming and you were always in lines in the museum trying to get to the Sistine. We honestly just wanted to skip everything and just see the Sistine after a while but you had to maze through the whole museum before you were able to visit. It was a bit exhausting..
I really appreciated this Papel Robe by Matisse!

After our visit to the Vatican we headed off for dinner. The restaurant we scoped out was near the Pantheon so we decided to go inside and check it out. It was very unique and different considering this was one of the first real churches!! The open skylight allowing for the rain to not affect the surroundings was really a neat feature that you don't see every day and just being in a building from 120AD is mind blowing!

Then we grabbed some cocktails and appetizers at a neat little bistro where we enjoyed the nice weather and extreme people watching!

Finally we were off for dinner. We entered this off the beaten path restaurant I had found on one of the nice travel blogs. So we opened the door and asked for a table and were immediately told there was no availability... ALL night. The restaurant wasn't even full. We felt that because we were tourists we weren't welcome because it did say it was a locals joint. We were supremely disappointed. Then we found another restaurant on a list that we set out to find. We began to walk around and around because the map said we kept passing the restaurant.. WHERE is it?! Finally we realized it was CLOSED, due to being shut down by the city for a week?! What the?!.. Then it was down to just picking a random restaurant.. sigh.. Dillmans 0 - Rome 15..

I finally was able to try Cacchio e Pepe, which is pretty must olive oil and pepper but it was quiet good although it doesn't photograph nicely.. ha! All in all dinner wasn't bad, and it was always nice to have fresh pasta! Then it was time to turn in for the evening..