Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Living la dolce vita: Our Roman Holiday

"When in Rome, do as Romans do." No problem. They certainly know how to live la dolce vita in Italy. Good wine, delicious food, friendly people and warm weather. I could live like this. But alas, we live in the Netherlands. Too bad. No just kidding. The Netherlands is great, but Italians have perfected living the good life.
Tiny elevator not appropriate for TALL Dutchmen
Jaap was attending an epilepsy conference in Rome for a few days, so we turned it into a week vacation and spent the last few days of our summer holiday in the Eternal City. What a great trip. Both of us have been to Rome before, so we were pretty relaxed about seeing the sites. We managed to see new things and also take a day trip to Tivoli, which my mother recommended to us. Thanks Mom!
We spent our first day at the Vatican visiting the basilica, museum, and of course the Sistine Chapel. The crowds were incredible. I can't believe how many people were at the Vatican. While eaves dropping in on an American tour guide talking to her patrons, I learned that the Sistine Chapel could eventually be closed due to a high volume of visitors each day. Apparently the noise contributes to deterioration of Michelangelo's ceiling. So folks, another reason to get to Rome... ASAP!
The Vatican
It was hot! Too hot for comfort, but it cooled down to a mild 89 degrees and we got used to it. I can't complain. I now know why there are tons of fountains all of the city. Romans need to cool off! 
Here we are enjoying the views at Piazza Navona. A few days after we left, the fountain below was vandalized and now part of it is missing.
We did a lot on our second day: Ancient forum, Colosseum, and a drive by of the Spanish Steps and Fontana di Trevi. The last time Jaap and I both visited Rome the Ancient Forum was free, but now you have to pay to enter. On the plus side, it includes entrance to the Colosseum.
I have the same picture from my first visit to Rome in 2001. :)
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And after a long and hot day of walking and sightseeing, we enjoyed some relaxation at an outdoor café. It was in the Trastevere district, where our hotel was located. We stopped by this café several times that week for food, drinks, and nice long conversations. This is how I like to vacation. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Summer in NY: We're engaged!

Catskill, NY on the Hudson River
The end of our summer in New York definitely ended on a high note! Spending time with my nephew, a visit to NYC, meeting my friends' new born babies, and more family events. But, one of the most exciting things was getting engaged! A very nice surprise by Jaap and received with much love and excitement! Jaap is good at creating romantic moments. We're so happy and it was extra special being able to share it with family and friends. I can't wait til I can call him my hubbie!
So many things happened in New York during Jaap's two weeks visit. Too much to write about, but here are some of my favorite things about New York, America, and home!

Game day with Jaap and Joey. A day full of mini-golf, go-carts, laser tag, and a great arcade!
Visiting my hometown, seeing friends, and being able to hold the newest members of our Catskill clan. Congratulations to Katie, Joe, and beautiful Baby Cole!
Getting engaged on the beautiful Hudson! Unfortunately, if we were to take this picture today I would be completely underwater because of the devastations left by Hurricane Irene. My heart goes out to everyone in the Catskills... so sad. 
Holding more babies when we met Heather & Chris' new little one Gavin! One more to the Catskill clan. 
Festivities at the annual Pardo family picnic. This is an action shot of me before Shannon and I won the water balloon toss.
Seeing Shannon...
and my niece Elin. She's so cute. :)
Happy birthday to Titi Vivian & Pop.
My two favorite people.
Sharing our Dutch traditions in America. Playing Kolonisten aka Settlers of Catan with the Pardos.
Cosmopolitans with Amanda & Jaap at the Russian Vodka Room. Please note: This is one of my FAVORITE things about NYC. It is the best cosmo you will ever have. No joke. (If you're in NYC and wanna check it out: 52nd between 7th and 8th) LEKKER!
Vegan dinner date with Shannon at Angelica's Kitchen, our favorite restaurant.
Visiting Jaap's former residence of Roosevelt Island. (It's a tiny island between Manhattan and Queens.)
Riding the newly renovated tram.
Walking around Central Park and see my favorite spot, the Bethesda Fountain.
The sculpture garden on the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
 and the collection of musical instruments. 
 Good-bye lunch with Shannon & Susan at Alchemy in Park Slope. 
Family time...Pop & Elin.
 Visiting the Jim Henson exhibit at the Museum of Moving Image in Queens. Jaap is an official Muppet collector, so this was a very special day for us. Here we are trying to sneak a few illegal shots of Jaap with some original muppets. 
But, my favorite about being home are family and friends. Being able to hug my parents, niece, and nephew are the best things! And at the same time, the worst thing is hugging my parents good-bye at the airport when we leave. I dread it every time because I know I won't see the for a few more months. On the plus side, we already bought our tickets of Christmas. We'll be home for the holidays!