Europe Day 4 – Rome

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Today was the first day we really wished we had planned a bit better on this trip. We’ve intentionally kept this trip from becoming itinerary-driven by only planning out one day in advance. We wanted it to stay restful, and not always feel like we had to meet our next wicket. Today, though, we arrived at Saint Peter’s Basilica hoping to be able to attend Sunday Mass with the Pope only to find out a few things: Read More

Europe Day 3 – Tivoli to Rome

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After seeing what a lovely room we’d booked, and how much there is to see in Tivoli, we asked Alessandro if we could book a second night with him. Unfortunately, he already had a prior reservation, so this morning, we packed up, had breakfast with Alessandro, and headed into town in the car. Parking was easy to find downtown, and we set off to start our tour of Tivoli. A short walk got us to Parco Villa Gregoriana, a stunningly beautiful park in what used to be called the Valley of Hell for the thunderous roar of a waterfall tearing down a ravine on the very edge of town. Three hundred years ago, local officials started a hydro-engineering project to redirect some of the water to prevent the town from being eroded away. Although there is still a waterfall in the gorge, it is no longer quite the raging torrent it used to be; much of the water is redirected through a tunnel to the other side of the park. Read More

Europe Day 2 – Amalfi Coast to Tivoli

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We had a wonderful breakfast this morning at the Fattoria Terranova in Sorrento in the covered patio of the main farmhouse. It is so rustic and charming here, and the food is unbelievably delicious. Our hosts are friendly and courteous and have ensured we’ve had a wonderful time here. After packing up and checking out, we headed towards Positano, our original destination last night. Even though we ended up stopping here in Sorrento instead, I think it worked out better. The pace of life in Sorrento is wonderfully slow, and it was a great reminder to slow down and not try to take this trip too fast. Read More

Europe Day 1 – Pompeii and Sorrento

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This morning we finally got a rental car. Booked it online and picked it up from Capodichino Airport, Napoli. If we had reserved it at the Europcar counter in the airport, we would’ve been required to purchase full coverage (think CDW, but more expensive than in the USA), even though our credit card covers up to full value of the car. But if we reserved it online, we were not required to purchase full coverage, so the price was about 1/3 of the quoted price at the counter. Read More

NZ Day 7 – Queenstown & plein air watercolor painting

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This morning we drove into Queenstown. It’s a bustling tourist town with lots of cute little shops. The hillsides surrounding are full of little condos and homes overlooking the lake. We found a park to enjoy the sun for a little while. While we were sitting there a momma duck and her duckling came by and hung out for a while. The momma was content to let the little one wander while she napped beside our picnic blanket.

Because of the crowds, we weren’t too interested in sticking around in Queenstown. Most of the things to do in town seem to consist of paid activities and not too many free or picturesque options (though we didn’t look too hard for these). I would love to come back out of season and walk the streets.

Below, our delicious breakfast this morning, made in the shared campsite kitchen to give you an idea of the types of places we’ve been making our meals in. Read More

NZ Day 6 – Lake Wanaka & Hawea

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Today was filled with driving. We drove from Fox Glacier where we stayed last night at the Fox Glacier Lodge Campground (a nice and very clean little place. One of my favorites) all the way down to Wanaka. Unfortunately, because of the weather, we weren’t able to see Fox Glacier. We drove down to the parking lot in the rain and with the downpour it wasn’t worth walking the trail in the low visibility.

Thankfully as the morning wore on the rain clouds dispersed and we enjoyed bright blue skies and fluffy white clouds.

There is an endless amount of things to see here. Along the side of our drive through more mountainous areas today were dozens of waterfalls peeking through the dense rain forested mountainsides. We stopped at one and walked up the riverbed where people had left cairns.

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NZ Day 4 – Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and spontaneous caving

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We started our drive down the west coast today. Our drive took us right along the ocean. This side of the island gets the most rain so the hillsides are covered in rainforest. There is an abundance of ferns here.

Once we reached Punakaiki, rather than continuing on, we decided to get a campsite early. We stopped in at Punakaiki Beach Camp and rented a powered camping site right on the ocean.

Just down the road were the famous pancake rocks and blowholes with a nice path leading out to them. I would love to come back to this location and paint as the rock formations are spectacular. Read More

NZ Day 2 – Sketching with the sheep

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Continuing our travels in NZ…

This second day was simply wonderful. We woke when it was light out and I remember it feeling like it lasted an eternity. We spent so much time just relaxing. The sheep around the cottage were an amusement. We tried making friends but they would bleat and run off whenever we stepped outside. I sat in the grass for a long while sketching and a few wandered close but ran off as soon as Anson returned. Read More