Final Thoughts on the U.S. (2019)

So….we spent far too much time in the U.S. in 2019.  We started with about three months in Kentucky (including quick weekends in Nashville and Louisville).  As some of you know, Robert’s brother was diagnosed with cancer and we moved into his house for three months to help care for him.  Then, we took a road trip through Iowa and Minnesota (where we saw some good friends) and Wisconsin (where we visited my parents) and finally back to Chicago (to see doctors and visit friends).  After the road trip, we made a quick visit to Arizona to see Robert’s parents.  Then, after a month out of the U.S., we returned to Chicago for a couple of days.  And, at the end of the year, we returned to the U.S. to visit doctors in Chicago and to see my parents in Florida and Robert’s parents in Arizona, with a brief stop in between to visit Vegas for Christmas.  When 2019 started, we never dreamed we would spend so much time in the U.S.  And, as you can imagine, our perspectives on the U.S. were really marred by the reason we came back in the first place.  That said, outside of seeing friends and family, we can’t say we really enjoyed our time back in the U.S. in 2019  And the tone of this post reflects that.  Sadly, nothing too funny to see here.  Hang on, this is going to be a bit of a bumpy ride.


An adorable squirrel in Cadiz, KY.

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Christmas in Vegas

I know, I know, you are thinking “why on earth is she talking about Christmas in February?”  Well, the answer is because we post our blogs in order and we are way, way behind schedule.  So, without further ado.


Decorations at the Bellagio.

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Final thoughts on France (2019)

It is that time again…

The hot chocolate in France is seriously delicious.  I almost never drink hot chocolate.  Then, I land in France, and it is hot chocolate nearly every single day.  (Robert reports that the espresso is miserable).


Statue and a bird at Versailles.

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A day trip to Versailles

We didn’t do much in Paris due to the transit strike and the nasty weather, but before the strike got going we made our way to Versailles for a day.  Here is what we learned (a bit tongue in cheek).


A small bit of detail on the roof of Versailles.

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Final thoughts on Italy (2019)

It is that time again….but we have surprisingly few final thoughts on Italy.


One of Robert’s favorite snacks in Florence.

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Off the beaten path walking tour of Rome

We always like to find a few off the beaten path places in every city we visit.  So, after hitting the highlights, we planned out an off the beaten path self-guided walking tour of Rome (along with a few highlights we had missed the previous day).

We started our day in Quartiere Coppede, a small neighborhood fairly far from the main tourist sites and often called the fairy tale neighborhood.  We didn’t walk here — we took the number  3 tram to Piazzo Buenos Aires, which is right outside the neighborhood.  You enter Quartiere Coppede through an arch.  Hanging from the arch is a chandelier, so immediately you know you are in for something special.  The neighborhood was designed by architect Gino Coppedè back in the early 1900’s and is a mishmash of architectural styles.  One of the highlights is the Fontana delle Rane (Fountain of Frogs), although it was unfortunately being worked on while we visited so we didn’t get to see it.


One of fairy tale homes in Quartiere Coppede.

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Self walking tour of the Rome highlights

Rome is a great city for walking.  Not too many hills (only 7!) and something to see around nearly every corner.  Plus, gelato and slices of Roman-style pizza all along the way if you need a sugar or fat buzz.  So, on our first day of sightseeing in Rome, we decided to hit the highlights.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  It is impossible to see all of the highlights of Rome in one day.  And, our highlights may not be your highlights.  For example, neither of us had even the slightest interest in seeing the Vatican again.  (Don’t get me started because I can go on for hours about the absurdity of the church being that wealthy and the absurdity of the fig leaves added to many of the statues in the Vatican museum and the horrible crowds and so on and so forth).  And, we probably didn’t walk the most ideal route, as we hit the sights that were most important to us first because the sun sets early in Rome in November and we weren’t sure we could hit everything.  But, if you like to walk, here is a suggested route that will hit many of the highlights of Rome.


A random statue in front of ancient ruins somewhere near the Coliseum.  There are so many ruins in Rome.  It seems like they are everywhere.

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Day trip to Lucca and Pisa

A day trip to Lucca is a piece of cake from Florence, and well worth it.  Just hop on the train and go.


Old walls around Lucca.

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Off the beaten path in Florence at the Stibbert Museum

If you want to get slightly off the beaten path while in Florence, you could do far worse than visiting the Stibbert Museum.


European armor and art.

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Florence in pictures

Even in November, when the rains come and the sun rarely shines, Florence is one of the most beautiful cities we have ever visited.  The old quarter is a UNESCO world heritage site and there is just one thing after another to see.

One of the most beautiful sights in Florence is the Cathedral.  Yep, you read that correctly.  The cathedral.  Although it is being repaired (I guess anything built between the 13th and 15th centuries is likely almost always in need of repair), so good luck getting a photo without scaffolding in it somewhere….And, we can’t tell you what it looks like inside because, at this point, we are pretty much churched out….


Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore.

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