A Tuscan Adventure

I got back from Italy about a week ago, and I’ve had a little trouble adjusting back to that pesky thing we call reality.

My love affair with Italy started before I can remember, largely due to my heritage being partially credited to the country. I love authentic Italian cuisine, music, and culture.

This year, I took what I learned from my trip in Fall 2015 to try to make an even better experience possible, and I’m pretty pleased with how it all worked out!

For this adventure, I scored a $668 RT flight out of LAX and right into Florence, Italy where I planned to stay. I booked this flight last October, but I was tracking the flights using Skyscanner, my favorite flight tracker/predictor site, since May!

Once my flight was locked in, I hit AirBnB to find the perfect apartment to use as my Florence launchpad for my Tuscany plans.

When I originally started planning, I didn’t even have a travel companion. But I had dates, tickets, and reservations….and faith that everything would work itself out accordingly. But of course, my amazing friend Zainab once again came through and was my travel companion!

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Zainab and I outside the Cieto Chiarli Winery in Bologna

There is truly something to be said of friends who travel together. I look forward to more adventures with her…and we will succeed in stealing Alex away with us next time!

Once all of the most important arrangements were made, I had plenty of time to “map out” an itinerary of sorts, to make the most of Florence and the surrounding areas. Last time, we spent 4 days in Rome and 3 in Florence, and I regretted not having more time in the heart of Tuscany!

Ideally, I wanted a few free days to roam the city and re-visit some of our favorite things from the last visit (which actually weren’t places, but more along the lines of specific types of potato chips and candy bars, lol), and also a few days outside of the main city exploring-there will be more involved posts for each day trip, soon!

My favorite way to book Day Tours and experiences is using Viator, a site/app that books for you via the various companies across the world to get you amazing deals on even more amazing adventures. Get $10 off anything you book when you use this link.

Some of the highlights:

Day 1: Piazzale Michelangelo…and a GELATO FESTIVAL

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Day 2: Cinque Terre

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Day 3: Exploring Firenze: Profumo Santa Maria Novella and the best dessert espresso drink!

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Day 4: Pisa, San Gimignano, Chianti Classico, and Siena

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Day 5: Bologna-The Food Tour to End All Food Tours

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Day 6: More Romaing Firenze…Really Making Our Last Day Count! The Leather School, The Central Market, and more!

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Again, this is a mere taste of all we did! There will be smaller posts later with tips for all of these amazing places to see if you head to Firenze/Toscana!

Want to follow me on the adventures to come (only 53 days until I head to Greece)?

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I love to post my favorite shots on social media, and I always have behind the scenes fun on Snapchat! I’d love to take you along on my adventures! I still have Phoenix, Greece, New Orleans, Palm Springs, maaaaybe New York City, and San Francisco planned for this year!

Happy Travels!

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I’m Still Alive (Updates into August)!

I am constantly prattling on about how busy my life is. I promise I am making every effort to find a way to streamline things so that I may be able to actually take a day or two to catch up on blogging, Facebook, and all the other social media outlets that keep me connected to YOU!

In the meantime, I alternate between running around like a chicken with my head cut off, and sleeping.

And so, I feel the need to at least debrief you all on the latest happenings. There have been some huge things taking place, and it’s kept me busy, to say the least!

I moved.

I hate moving. I moved a lot as a kid with my mom, and my dad. I always felt like a displaced person, especially after leaving home when I was 15. So the longer I live somewhere, the more accomplished I feel! But alas, the last year brought two new jobs that weren’t very close to my old apartment and working 80-90 hour weeks meant that I was unable to even BE home very often. I moved all of my possessions (well, most of them) into a storage space and they’re there for safe keeping until the next move in the fall. So, for the summer I’m at Sean’s house, and have plans to relocate in October before Italy and the holidays! It’s my hope that my next move after that will be into my first home as a home-buyer….but the thought of that makes me break into a cold sweat. Moving on…

I got a scholarship to attend the 2015 Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) Your Weight Matters (YWM) Convention!

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PHOTO CREDIT: YWMCONVENTION.COM

Originally, I applied for a scholarship through the OAC and didn’t make the cut. Then, back in June an additional opportunity came up thanks to Eisai, who offered a “Weigh In for Healthy Change”  scholarship for those interested to attend and take part in the amazing OAC Advocacy Training! When I attended in 2013, I was unable to attend this training and I have wanted to so badly! Now, for that reason, I got a scholarship for the entire convention! My flight is booked, my room is paid for, and I am registered and ready! There are officially two weeks until I head to San Antonio, TX for the event…and I still need to figure out what the heck to wear for the Wild West themed welcome dinner/event….

My trip to Europe was CANCELED.

Yes. You read that right. And yes, I had a full on nuclear melt-down. Like, Mariah Carey 2004 mental breakdown status melt-down (no shame!). We had an amazing 19-day adventure in Italy, France, and Spain planned. We originally had to postpone our September 20th trip due to Sean’s new job, and then the new October 30th date was canceled due to lack of registration.

It’s not news to anyone that I’ve wanted to take this trip for years. In fact, I was super excited last January when I registered for Italian classes at the Italian Cultural Center (ICC) in the Little Italy area of San Diego to brush up on my skills and get ready for the trip I knew I was going to take. And so, when all this took place, there was only one thing to do….

I planned a BRAND NEW trip.

The way I see it, there comes a time for everyone where they have to stop being swallowed by sadness and DO SOMETHING. My general rule? I’m allowed to be mad for five minutes. Being a woman, this is sometimes extended to 5 hours, or in the case of this trip madness, it was like, 3 days. I found out Thursday and died a little inside. How do you truly accept that the trip of your dreams will go from being less than 100 days away, to over 400 days away? I just couldn’t deal!

Roman nights! Photo Credit: Google Images

Roman nights! Photo Credit: Google Images

I wallowed Friday and knew I needed a solution but wasn’t ready to come up with one yet. And on Saturday, my friend Zainab (who I’d texted Friday and planned to call, but decided to watch Food Network and sleep instead-because I’m a Mariah) called and asked what my previously mentioned proposal was.

Firenze aka Florence! Photo Credit: Google Images

Firenze aka Florence! Photo Credit: Google Images

Luckily for me, I have ridiculously amazing friends, and Zainab was down to hit just Italy with me for a total of about 10 days with travel time. Just like when we did Hawaii, we agreed that I’d figure out the logistics and handle things-because she’s a busy heart surgery PA. Within 4 days, we had two homes booked in Rome and Florence for a total of 8 days, and a killer deal on flights out of Seattle (which means I get to make a second trip to pretty Seattle in addition to visiting her in September!) with minimal layover times, and I already have leads on some amazing things to do while we are there. Also, I already started shopping and acquired BRAND NEW luggage that my dad gave me. So basically, I’m just counting down the 89 days until take-off.

My second article was published for TheBlot Magazine!

I channeled my sadness/frustration/irritation/triumph about the trip shenanigans into an article about resuscitating a vacation-or even just planning one on a budget! I am really proud of the resources I used, because most articles I find on the topic involve taking out new credit cards and things like that, which isn’t always feasible or desirable for everyone! It’s my goal to make my next article about getting ready for the trip itself (now that it’s still happening)! Stay tuned for it! While you’re waiting, you should totally check out “Tips for Resuscitating a Vacation” on TheBlot.com!

Time is flying, tomorrow is the first day of August, and I still have so much on my to-do list!

My presence is sparse, but you can find me on the daily on my Instagram page, Facebook page, and on Twitter! I always follow back (unless you’re naked and have obscene profile info), and I love seeing the other side of my readers….the one where I’m checking out what YOU are up to!

August 13th is right around the corner, and I’ll be sharing fun from the OAC YWM15 Convention! Make sure you check me out on Periscope for live feed while I’m in San Antonio, too!

Be back soon!

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