the city of LOVE & LIGHTS

Friendly French

Arriving into Paris was much more of a breeze than both of us had expected… short flight… easy to maneuver around the domestic terminal and last minute decided to take a taxi into the city instead of training it in. Which was a HUGE blessing as our taxi driver was really friendly… spoke great English and gave us tons of advice of what to do other than the ‘typical’ touristic things. We once again rented an apartment through Air B&B (which we have loved and will continue to use in the future) for our time in Paris, which was located 10 mins from the Louvre, 20 mins from the Notre Dame… right next to the seine river and centrally located to restaurants, super markets, boulangeries (bakeries where we bought a baguette every day) and anything else we needed.

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It is always fun first arriving to wander the streets and see what is around us… make sure we know our way around before we do anything else! I really wanted to make sure we went to a great rating Boulangerie to try out the infamous macaroons… which Cordie had never eaten before… and HE LOVED THEM! I love that in Europe you can walk so many places and see so many different famous or non-famous things around you… love that there are little cafes you can stop at and quickly have an espresso or just sit at and people watch for a book… or sit and journal without a ‘worry’ in the world. Ending our evening early…setting up a noise maker app on our phones to drown out the loud talking beneath us (small downside of the apartment) that no matter what night of the week it was it was always loud from 5pm-the wee hours in the morning.


The following day we headed to the Louvre and had a wonderful time! If you read about ‘spending’ time inside most places recommended a minimum of three hours… We spent well over 4 hours within the museum and LOVED every minute of it. It was nice to see some similar things that we had come across in Spain and Italy but also a lot of fun to see French Paintings, Napoleon’s apartments that were once within the walls and many many other things. (of course the Mona Lisa also) :)

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From there we walked to the Notre Dame church, which had just recently celebrated their 850th Anniversary. It is free to enter the famous church, but hold a treasury with certain ‘believed’ items from the time of Christ, clothing that belonged to certain Popes’ from the past, sparkling jewels and other very very old artifacts- that one has to pay to enter in and see it. We went in and spent quite a bit of time looking/reading over everything-it was pretty cool to see.

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The next day we walked A LOT..More than five miles actually… it was freezing out but we were both stubborn and did not want to take any transport places so that we could see MORE of Paris rather than just jumping on the subway… being underground an then arriving at a ‘tourist’ location. Our two main stops were the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower. :) The pictures below are random from our walk there and back… enjoying the ‘free’ entertainment the city provides along side the Seine River.

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One of the things we did on our way back was attach a lock to one of the three lock bridges in Paris… It was fun. We wrote our name, the date, the date we got married, then each had a separate key that came with the lock to throw over… You can research online the ‘lovers tradition’ and the different controversies over it.

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After our day of walking we decided to rent BIKES!! I had been waiting to find a city in which it was reasonable to rent for a day and convenient for us as well. We started our 10+ mile biking day by going to Jardin de Luxembourg (Luxembourg Garden) and enjoyed coffee, crepes, seating around lovely flowers and a fountain. It was still chilly but comfortable.

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From there we biked over to Bastille an arrondissement (or neighborhood) formally known as Bastille Saint-Antoine and had coffee and cakes with a couple and their kids. We met the wife in Valencia, Spain and her 4 year old daughter name is Catherine and they have a 2 yr old little boy Benjamin who was just the sweetest thing.

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After a couple of lovely hours with them we headed back towards the Eiffel Tower to see it lite up and then every hour on the hour for about 5 mins it SPARKLES!!! It truly is amazing and nice to sit a park close by and wait and watch the monument light up the sky! As you can see below we also biked to Pont de Arcs (another one of the three lock bridges) and left another lock with our names on it. :)

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Our last day was rainy and wet but still enjoyable. We met up in the morning with a friend of mine from YWAM for coffee and a looong overdue chat for a couple hours! She has been living in Paris for the past three years and it was so nice to hear all that she is doing with YWAM Paris and hear heart for the young and thriving city.

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From there we walked along the Seine River reminiscing about our favorites of the trip… reflecting on whats ahead and trying not to ‘plan’ to much of where we will be when.



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We are so thankful we were able to spend time in some amazing cities and places over the past couple of weeks, and are so ready to get back to Florida and continue to keep moving forward!

Once we get the rest of our pictures organized, resized and sorted they will be in the gallery! So keep an eye out!


Venetian Lagoon

From one body of water to the next…

After our time in and near Cinque Terre it was hard to get in the car and drive away… but we did it in anticipation of spending time in Venice or Venezia which is its Italian name. The city itself is made up of 118 small islands connected by bridges and canals… and cars, mopeds, bicycles anything of the sort are not allowed on the island. Yes, you can drive to a large parking lot or take a bus over in which there are awaiting water taxis, water buses and gondolas to take you to your destination or like the father and son we rented our ‘penthouse’ here in Mestre from recommended to just walk. Walk and get lost. In doing so we came across the touristic spots…dark ‘alleyways’ or teeny tiny roads… what seemed to be mostly residential areas…the Venice University…and around almost every corner another ‘photo’ opportunity to try and catch a glimpse of the city’s treasures.



The day we arrived was a Sunday and everything around us was closed-so we were grateful we had been given a bag of pasta and sauce to make ourselves some dinner and enjoy the apartment. We didn’t realize that we had missed on its listing that it fit up to 8 PEOPLE! As soon as the guy and his son started to show us the three bedrooms, two bathrooms, large kitchen and two outdoor patios-I thought this would be a perfect place for a group of friends or even two smaller families to enjoy the area with!!! From where we stayed to get on the island is a 1.30 euro bus ride that takes 15 min-you can’t beat that considering how expensive the rates go up just to be amongst the hustle and bustle of the ‘spots’ to go to. We walked the streets of the neighborhood even though everything was closed and just enjoyed being in a new place once again.

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Piazza San Marco

Our first day on the island we literally booked it (walking) to Saint Mark’s Square to get there earlier than later in hopes of shorter lines to enter into the church-we thought the map we had we get us there… def wrong but thankful for the graffiti on corners and walls to direct us through the maze of streets. We arrived to the square and it was PACKED full of people but nothing compared to what we had previously experienced in Rome. It was actually surprising to come across so many other tourists while being in Venice as it was more cold than hot every day that we were there. We were happy to not have to wait in line for very long and to enter into another beautiful church… However, they were also very strict about not taking any photos so we do not have any from the inside! :(

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Lost & Loving It

After our ‘touristic’ time we wandered and wandered some more… had an ‘okay’ lunch.. then wandered some more you can see pics below of the various places we stopped to just indulge in our surroundings. We did the same thing the following day after we spent the morning on the water. :) It was very cloudy and foggy out but we both wanted to see around the city so we took about an hour ride (the water taxi stopped for others to get on and off) along the Grand Canal to an island called San Giorgio Maggiore to go up a church’s Bell Tower that looked back across the canal to St. Mark’s Square… they recommend you to go on a sunny day so you can see farther and the city is clearer…yet with it being fall…rainy and wet weather we took what we could get and LOVED every freezing minute up on the tower to look out over a such a wondrous city. You would think it would be frustrating not knowing where you are going… but once you notice and appreciate all of the little details surrounding you… bridges, wrought iron bent in all shapes and sizes… the leaves of the vines clinging against the building changing colors and just being within another culture and consuming it… ‘being lost’ is totally worth it. Venice is one of the more expensive cities we have visited but there was still plenty to do for low costs! (There is a lot a lot of shopping one can do… so be prepared if you have a hard time saying NO! hah)

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We are now onto our next stop before heading back to Jacksonville, Florida… Paris, France! Thanks again for reading and understanding how good vs bad wifi can determine when things get posted or don’t!



the RUGGED portion

Cinque Terre

We rented a car at one of the airports in Rome and DROVE to the ‘rugged” portion of coast along the Italian Riviera.. our plan was to stop in Pisa and take a quick picture of the Leaning Tower on our way up there… which there was one exit-we missed it and noticed the sun would be going down sooner than we had expected so trudged along and made our way into the mountains on the west coast of Italy and then back down them again to reach the coast in which our rental sat awaiting us on top of a restaurant located between the two cities Levanto and Bonassola neither are a part of the ’5′ which is the ‘Cinque’ in the name of this now well known area… but it is only a mile+ walk for us into the town of Levanto in which we hopped onto a train that took us back to the beginning of the five villages. (visitors are not allowed to drive within the villages without special permission-which was preferred for us as how narrow and steep a majority of the roads were) Views from & of our little place below.

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Below the villages are in ‘order’ geographically-not the order we visited them in. Enjoy.

Riomaggiore (dayone)

Is considered the first of the five villages located right on the water and the city we were recommended to go to first… we spent almost 2 hours walking around the village… up to a church and then up a few hundred more steps to an old castle which the view was gorgeous (i wish there was another word for it than that) and from there we headed to the train station for our 2 min ride as the walking trail is currently closed (you can pay to have access to the National Park trails that are meant to connect all the villages-yet most of them are currently closed due to their geographic state) we spent almost 2 hours waiting for a train that eventually took us our 2 min by train journey after switching tracks… it was humorous to say the least.

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Manarola (dayone)

We made our way to find lunch upon arrival in this quaint little village which is the second in line and the second smallest of the five… eating on the cliff with a view of the ocean was more than words could express! The pasta was made there locally, along with the olive oil, their balsamic vinegar and sea salt…It has been our favorite restaurant we have eaten at this whole trip by far!!! This little village being our favorite also due to the magical lemon, lime, orange and olive trees around you on the paths as you walked… grapes hanging in arms reach as the vineyards engulfed us with the smell of the ocean constantly filling our lungs… it was more than either of us had imagined from such a ‘small’ place.

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Corniglia (daytwo)

This village is technically a ‘fraction’ of the next village Vernazza and then only one of the five that is not directly on the water. It is 100 meters above the water and is accessed via 382 steep stairs or a vehicle road that winds up the mountain…which one can walk up and we were ready to do-but got extremely lucky that the ‘very rare’ (as locals told us) bus which will go up to the center was waiting for us! Once at the top before we began our hike to the next village we sat and enjoyed a nice hot cappuccino at a cafe that looked right out towards the ocean… we just couldn’t get enough of all the gorgeous views. We both mentioned throughout the rest of the day as we were hiking how fortunate and thankful we were to not have to start the ‘hike’ by climbing up all the stairs we had originally mentally prepared for. :) The trail we took was one of the only ones along the coastal path that was open for this time of year (most of the other trails were 7-12 hour treks and we did not bring the proper attire for those kind of trips) and was not very far in ‘distance’ however it wasn’t just a stroll in the park… with slippery rocks, paths that fit one person at a time (even if others approaching you didn’t care to notice they were on the edge of a massive cliff) To say the least we LOVED all of it-laughed, took our time… let others pass us just to pass them later on… stopped to try and catch pictures or just observe the cities we had seen the day before at a distance. IT was great. We ended in Vernazza.

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Vernazza (daytwo)

Which was busier than we had thought and had many many restaurants to choose from to eat at! The other places didn’t have too many choices so we were starving and overwhelmed! Choosing where to eat is always a thorough process for us to make sure we look into the ones recommended by locals but also can have what we are in the mood for. I had been wanting and waiting patiently to find somewhere that served Minestrone soup! We found it here in Vernazza in which the made it with PESTO and it was PHENOMENAL!!! I wish I had the recipe to attempt to make it again myself…And Cordie had a lasagna with a very rich cheese and pesto as well. We were content and once again ready for our quiet place of solitude back on the water. :)

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After freezing (and sweating) all morning through the mountains it was a surprise to come back to our place and feel the warm sun beating down on the roof or one could say our ‘terrace’ or porch just outside the kitchen door of the house…It made our time in Cinque Terre even better to be able to take a rest laying out under the sun listening to the waves crash against the shore and discuss how amazing it would be to live in a place where all you can hear is the nature that surrounds you.


Monterossa (dayone)

After our lovely time in the first two villages we arrived here the last of the five and the one that is usually fuller with tourists during the summer months as it is the only one that has sand next to the water for people to enter the water easily. It being a long day we wondered up most of the village, stopped for some Gelato and then slowly made our way back towards the train as once we arrived in Levanto we still had another 1+ mile walk home and were desperate to get back to our little quiet abode overlooking the water.

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I hope some day you are able to escape to this once unknown paradise…



Roma. Rome


Firstly, I must say that Cordie and I have been housing at different places on our trip with Air BnB and here in Rome the place we stayed at was AMAZING to say the least… not necessarily because of the view… or the location (15 min walk to the Colosseum) but because of our host. He, Rossano, was an older man-had everything ready for us… maps, umbrellas, ‘accompanied’ (his verbiage for taking us there in his car free of charge) us to the bus station when we left and was so very friendly. The place was immaculate (extremely clean and felt new) and had many types of ‘security’ locks and options even though we didn’t feel that we needed them.

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Day One in Roma

One of my favorite ‘famous historical’ places in the entire world is the Colosseum-we went there on our first day… it was literally POURING and we experience some of the closest & loudest lightening of our lives together.. but trekked on in hopes that it wouldn’t be as busy inside…. we were wrong. We both paid extra for the ‘audio’ tour to enhance our knowledge of the place and were very pleased with our experience.

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The great thing about a ticket into the Colosseum was it also included entrance into the Roman Forums and Palatine (lots of walking) which were both spectacular and we felt like we obtained more of the Roman history than either of us had imagined.

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From there we enjoyed a lovely lunch of pasta and a calzone with eggplant in it. :) The place was good but the waiter literally dragged me to a table to ask other ‘english’ speaking people if it was good before we decided to sit down or not. ;)

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We then headed to the Pantheon and Piazza Navona… we sat and enjoyed both places for a little bit as it was nice to just observe the people around us and reflect on the day we had, had. From there we stopped for gelato… it was fantastic…then we headed back to our place… which seemed like forever but was only 2.5 miles. img_4637 img_4671_2 img_4712 img_4713 img_4691 img_4682 img_4653 img_4708 img_4701 img_4694 img_4684 img_4675_2

The pictures above are from our walk to the Pantheon, some of the piazza and the Pantheon inside and out. :)

The night before we had gone to a place for pizza… and as you can see below there was some confusion as to if a ‘plate’ was the same thing as a ‘slice’ of pizza which resulted in a LOT of pizza. (which was in the end great to have leftovers we could eat at home)


Day Two in Rome

We headed to the Vatican City to see the Sistine Chapel and the wide variety of museums they have along with the infamous church of St. Peter. We had NO IDEA that on Wednesday mornings people would gather in front of the church to sit and listen to the POPE speak…there were sooo many people. (pictures a couple paragraphs below with St. Peter pics) Since it was raining all you could see were rows and rows of umbrellas. It was a negative in getting into the church but we changed plans and jetted to the museums which were AMAZING and there was not a long line to wait to enter. From the many panels of information and soo many different statues, tapestries, paintings, pieces of old jewelry, the gorgeous ceilings, differently painted walls and floors the museums within the Vatican were spectacular…**Pictures will be added later**

However, seeing the Sistine Chapel and Michelangelo’s work with my own two eyes is something one cannot truly explain! Its funny because once you enter the chapel… you are immediately being ushered out by guards telling you not to speak and to not take any pictures… Thankfully for a ‘smart’ phone I snagged two un-blurry pictures not zoomed in… But they were taken by ME! We stood and observed as long as the guards would let you trying to scan the wonderful ceiling of all the details that were put into the masterpiece. I loved that there were so many men from the Bible on the ceiling and they all seemed so large, so I kept trying to imagine what it would be like trying to paint it as the ceiling is in your face and your neck and arms are extremely tired from standing in that position for so long. Remarkable.


After our lovely time in the Vatican we headed back to Saint Peter’s church and stood in line for 2 hours. :)   It was worth the wait…I had been there once before and remember just sitting on the floor feeling God’s presence and just weeping… well entering again I felt the same thing…This time there was also a Mass going on at the time with a choir singing in Latin at different times which just made the whole experience even more remarkable and breathtaking.

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We both loved our 2 full days in Rome and being so close to everything felt like it was just enough time to see what we wanted to and be enthralled with the history of a city that still has the remnants of a time long ago and show respect to those pieces. (and of course I am sure appreciating all the tourists that come and spend their money there as well) :)




gaudi, el gotik y mas

Cordie and I enjoyed 4 nights in the ‘el gotik bario’ area of Barcelona. We rented a studio apartment that was very clean, cool, had a queen size loft in which was close to the ceiling but not close enough that we felt claustrophobic. :) There was a love seat sofa underneath with two bar stools in the kitchen which made for just enough space for us to both sit comfortably.

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The location was also perfect as it was in walking distance of the beach, (Cordie’s first time in the Mediterranean Sea)

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Picasso Museo, the unfinished church by Gaudi (Sagrada Familia-a looong walk) and Caso Batllo. We also went into a museum in which had old Roman ruins underground-and was one of our favorite things we did in Barcelona as it explained the full history of the city and how during the Middle Ages the people had just built their palaces on top of the older structures leaving it hidden until the city decided to ‘create’ a road Via Laietana which still runs through the city today. :) 

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We both really enjoyed the Parc Guell, which was started by Gaudi with the intention of being a neighborhood in which he ‘designed’ all of the houses…however, that never happened and the park is more of a place to view the city, has more hiking trails than we had planned for and definitely adds quite a bit of flavor to the neighborhood that surrounds it. All of the pictures below are from there.

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Neither of us realized how big Barcelona is (4.2 million people) or how busy it would be with tourists in October… so we made the most of seeing the ‘sites’ quickly then spending time getting lost within the maze of streets to experience all of the culture that surrounded us. :)

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Above on the right is one of Gaudi’s famous houses. We also were 2 mins away walking from the only cathedral in the city, we went there our first day and took advantage of going on the roof top to see some of the city even though it was mostly overcast and cloudy.

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One of my favorite things to do is yes-try different restaurants to experience different foods and make sure you find ‘the best’ BUT I LOVE to find a place for some consistency even if it is for 5 days. Alsur Cafe, which was perpendicular to our little street became that for us. We had at least coffee and brekky there everyday if not followed by a meal later in the day once we found ourselves back. It was located in a quiet courtyard (except they have Sunday Brunch all day and was extremely busy then) with young families passing through and warming decor with a great ‘playlist’ of music which made us want to sit there for hours and just observe our surroundings. :)

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There are many more pictures from our time in Barcelona which will be put into the Gallery at a later date! Apologies that not all of the pictures are in order next to my descriptions of how we spent our time in Barcelona. Thank you for reading and hope you have a fantastic day!

We are on our way to Rome now. :)