Monday, May 30, 2016

Monte Carlo, Monaco - Eurotrip Day 3

My birthday was March 9th - what better way to spend the day than in Monte Carlo, Monaco.  When I think of Monte Carlo the first thing that comes to mind is James Bond and the Monte Carlo Casino.

Monaco is a city-state located on the French Riviera.  It is breathtakingly beautiful.  The water is the bluest of blues.  I felt like I was dropped off in the middle of a fairy tale.  You may remember the actress Grace Kelly who married Prince Rainier III in 1955, and became the Princess of Monaco.

This city-state seemed to me to be located on a cliff off the Mediterranean.  It's absolutely the most beautiful place I've ever seen; being there was very surreal.  Only spending a few hours in Monaco, I didn't visit any of the casinos, but I did get to witness the Changing of the Guards at the Prince's Palace, the official residence of the Prince of Monaco.

Have you heard of the Grand Prix?  The Monaco Grand Prix is a Formula One race - considered one of the most prestigious races in the world.  We got to see where the race begins; and after visiting Monaco I truly understand it's prestige.   While in Monte Carlo, we also got to see some exotic automobiles that you don't see just anywhere...

Oh, and in case you're wondering - you can own a studio flat/apartment with 46 sq meters living space for a cool 1.43 Million Euros (you're going to have to do the conversions yourself, but hey call me when you get settled and I'll come visit you)!!

One more thing, although French is the official language of Monaco, everyone I encountered spoke English, so no worries there.

Safe travels!
Welcome to Monaco
The Future Pince and Princess of Monaco
Prince Michael & Princess Kallie
+Kallie Jones

Prince's Palace
Monaco

Monte Carlo, Monaco
Monte Carlo, Monaco
Monte Carlo, Monaco

Monte Carlo, Monaco

Monaco

Monday, March 28, 2016

Italy - Eurotrip Day 2

Today we went to four different villages in the Cinque Terre Region of Italy.  It is so beautiful - so picturesque (no filter needed).  It's exactly like the intriguing photos you would see in a magazine.  

Cinque Terre means five lands; it is a cluster of towns "perched on the dramatic cliffs of the Mediterranean coast" (EF Tours).  These five Italian villages include: 1) Monterosso, 2) Vernazza, 3) Corniglia, 4) Manarola, and 5) Riomaggiore.  We visited four of the five villages, each similar yet very unique, with spectacular views and charm.  We traveled to each village by train.

Each village had unique boutiques and shops, some of which were closed because it wasn't their busy/tourist season yet, but the few that were open were quite quaint.  It is here that I ate the very best pizza I have ever had in my life (prior to this trip Chicago pizza was my favorite).  

Cinque Terre is a wine making region as well, where two types of wine are made from the same three white grames: bosco, albarolo and vermentino, labeled under 'Cinque Terre D.O.C.' (http://www.littleparadiso.com/2013/02/wine-in-cinque-terre-primer.html).   

We enjoyed lots of walking and hiking in the villages of Cinque Terre, especially at our last stop, Monterosso, where we found a fort-type structure seemingly something from the Roman era.  We have no idea how long it has been there but we enjoyed climbing on it.  Monterosso was so neat with random statues, paths, steps, walkways; we had a blast - nothing beats feeling like a kid again.

This evening we returned back to our hotel in Lavagna just in time for dinner which consisted of pasta with a type of red sauce, then some veal.  Dessert was the best, of course; a very moist and delightful type of chocolate cake.  

We walked and hiked a lot on this day - 2,000 steps would be a huge understatement - more like 10,000, and our steps were quite literal.  

Another beautiful day in Italy in the books, March 8, 2016.

Ciao!


















Friday, March 25, 2016

Arriving in Italy - Eurotrip 2016

My daughter and I recently returned from our spring break trip to Europe.  It was so beautiful - there aren't enough adjectives to express the feeling of awe that we encountered daily.  We traveled via Delta Airlines out of Springfield, Missouri with layovers in Atlanta and Amsterdam; destination: Milan, Italy.  The worst part of the trip (and really only negative experience) was the eight hour flight from Atlanta to Amsterdam.  It was an overnight flight, but we couldn't sleep.  However, the movie options Delta provided were top notch.  It was like having your own personal free Redbox.

On this leg of the trip, Atlanta to Amsterdam, I had the pleasure of meeting and sitting by the most charming man from Brussels.  In light of the recent events in Brussels and terrorist attacks, I think of him and his family often.  He was returning home after visiting his daughters and their families in Pensacola, Florida.  He was ready to be home to see his wife.  They were home for a week, then taking holiday in Italy.  I hope he was not traveling when Brussels endured terrorism on their beautiful land.  He gave me a lot of pointers about traveling in Europe - pasta in Italy, wine in France - he spoke five languages (German, French, Italian, Dutch, and English) and was very kind (and he didn't snore - haha)...

Upon arrival in Milan, Italy we were picked up and driven to our first destination of Lavagna, Italy.
The views were stunning, very picturesque, but as we would discover, the views were stunning throughout all of our trip.  We stopped at a little place along the way - almost like a convenience store, but with a deli/coffee counter.  We ordered our first 'real' cappuccino and a sandwich called a Capri.  OH MY GOSH - the bread was incredible - everything I had hoped and dreamed it would be.  I look around...we are in Italy, eating and drinking local flavor; Heaven in a C-store.

The cappuccino is not like here in the States.  It is served in a small coffee cup (not a to-go coffee cup; Italians do not take their coffee to go...or in their words 'take away'), and it is not a sugary drink.  If you want sugar, you have to add it, and it is strong - that being said, the kiddo did not like hers, so I had two.

Arriving in Lavagna, our hotel was within walking distance of the beach.  The weather was quite cool while we were in Italy, so we did not going swimming, but if you have never seen the Mediterranean Sea, I suggest you make it a destination at the top of your list.  The views of the Mediterranean are breathtaking, with cool blue waters, rugged rocks and cliffs, and miles of beautiful shoreline.  While in Lavagna we stayed at the Hotel Doria (www.doriahotelcavi.com).  The hotel was very nice, but the rooms are quite small as compared to hotel rooms in the United States. Our room had two twin beds (which I believe is common in Europe, because that is how all of our rooms were at various hotels), and the bathrooms are even smaller, but hey, it's ITALY - no need to be greedy!!

At this point my only regret is not signing up for the Italian language lessons that I intended on signing up for a year and half ago - shame on me.  This just proves, don't put things off...the opportunity might pass you by.  Lucky for us, most of the Europeans we encountered along the way spoke English, with the exception of just a few.

Our first dinner in Italy was at the hotel restaurant - we ate here each evening we were in Lavagna - which consisted of Pesto Pasta (delicious) and bread (delicious); the second course was a type of pork chop with a mystery sauce and some "pudding", which was a type of mashed potato (delicious). The third course was dessert, a type of butter cake (delicious) - very moist and full of flavor.

All in all, although it had been a very long day (we left Missouri at 2 PM on Sunday and had this dinner on Monday evening at 6 PM) it was a successful day.

Monday, March 7, 2016 is in the books.

Ciao!
Mother-Daughter Eurotrip 2016 - SGF Airport

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Layover in Amsterdam









Sunday, March 6, 2016

Europe - The Final Countdown

Europe: Italy, France and Spain, here we come.  Spring Break 2016...we leave today for our first destination, Milan, Italy where we will transport via train and bus to Cinque Terre Region - visiting various small towns and villages.  I'm so excited to see this vast and beautiful region of Italy...and eat pasta, pizza, and explore Italian coffee and wine. Be sure and follow my website - I plan to blog daily about my #Eurotrip with my daughter, +KallieJones ... We are so excited.  

Sunday, January 10, 2016

36 Hours in Denver

Denver, the capitol of Colorado, home of the Denver Broncos (NFL), Colorado Avalanche (NHL), Denver Nuggets (NBA), and the Colorado Rockies (MLB) - just to name a few.  If you can't find something to do in the Denver area, you must be a very boring person.
Upon arrival to Denver Colorado

I arrived in Denver on a Saturday evening - and if you know anything about me, you know that two of my favorite things to do are travel and listen to live music, particularly the genre Red Dirt, otherwise known as Texas Country.  On Saturday, upon arrival to Denver, my crew and I checked into our hotel at the La Quinta Inn Denver Golden, right off I-70 in the Wheat Ridge area.  This particular La Quinta is very affordable, in a great location - only minutes from downtown Denver and Golden - with upgraded rooms and complimentary breakfast.  From the outside it looks like any other La Quinta motel, but our rooms were very updated, clean, and comfortable.  The perfect place for a short-term stay...in our case, two nights.

After we checked in to our hotel and got situated, we headed out to The Grizzly Rose Saloon & Concert Hall featuring live music six nights a week.  Upon arrival at The Grizzly Rose, we immediately sought out the grill and ordered some food.  I had a BBQ sandwich that was amazing.  We found a seat close to the stage, alongside the dance floor (great seats, by the way - excellent for concert viewing and people watching) and commenced to having an outstanding evening.  We arrived in town just in time to see two of my favorite bands, American Aquarium and Mickey & the Motorcars.

American Aquarium, an alternative country band from Raleigh, North Carolina includes frontman BJ Barham (vocals/rhythm guitar), Bill Corbin (bass), Ryan Johnson (lead guitar), Whit Wright (pedal steel), Kevin McClain (drums), and Colin Dimeo (lead guitar).  I have now seen American Aquarium three or four times and they never disappoint.  I can't wait to get my hands on their current album, Wolves - VINYL style (I already have it from iTunes on my iPhone).  I saw them in March 2015 at Cain's Ballroom in Tulsa, Oklahoma for my 40th birthday, which was also a special treat.  Be sure and follow them on Facebook and Twitter (@USAquarium).

Micky & the Motorcars is an alternative Texas country/Red Dirt band formed in Stanley, Idaho before moving to Austin, Texas.  Micky & the Motorcars includes frontman Micky Braun (vocals/acoustic guitar), his brother Gary Braun (guitar), Dustin Schaefer (lead guitar - who is phenomenal, by the way), Bobby Paugh (drums), and Joe Fladger (bass guitar).  I've had the honor of seeing Micky & the Motorcars three or four times within the past few months.  I saw them right around Thanksgiving when they played with Reckless Kelly at Knuckleheads Saloon in Kansas City, Missouri.  Their current live album now available is Across the Pond - Live in Germany.  Their current studio album now available is Hearts From Above.  Be sure to also follow them on Facebook and Twitter (@themotorcars).
Hat available for purchase in the
Coors Brewery gift shop

Sunday my crew and I set out for Golden, Colorado to tour the Coors Brewery.  Not having visited a brewery before, I was pleasantly surprised at how much fun we had.  Upon arrival to tour the Coors Brewery, you have to park in a particular parking lot and stand in line for a shuttle bus which takes you to the visitors entrance.  Fortunately it was a beautiful day, which made the 45 minute wait quite lovely (I'm trying to incorporate 'lovely' more into my daily language, because after all, it IS a lovely word)...at any rate, I highly recommend the Coors Brewery tour in Golden, Colorado.  Upon arrival to the visitors entrance, you get your group photo taken (or solo photo if you happen to be alone), then continue on to specific stops in the brewery, ending in the tasting room, where of course you have to make your way into the gift shop.  The tour is free, in the tasting room you get three full glasses of beer, and everything I looked at in the gift shop seemed quite affordable.

After our Coors tour, we proceed into downtown Golden where we visited a couple local retailers and ate a late lunch at Woody's Wood Fired Pizza & Watering Hole, a local favorite since 1993.  Woody's has a full menu, where once again I had a spectacular BBQ sandwich.  My crew decided on the pizza and salad bar, which was also quite amazing.  Woody's has a great atmosphere and our initial waiter made us feel right at home and was on top of things - he was lovely; unfortunately for us we arrived just before shift change and he had to leave us.  You definitely need to check out Woody's if you're ever in the area - and remember, shop local.

Continuing our live music endeavor, we went to support our friends Cole & Kendra Porter of Cole Porter Band from Springfield, Missouri.  They played an acoustic show at the Lions Lair on Colefax Avenue in Denver.  ANYTIME you get the chance to see Cole Porter Band, you should take it - you will not be disappointed.  Be sure and check out their new single 'Doin Just Fine' by visiting their website, coleporterband.com; also, be sure and follow them on Facebook and Twitter (@ColePorterBand)...additionally, FYI - you can create a Cole Porter Band station on Pandora and enjoy my kind of music!!

With the perfect ending to our 36 hours in Denver, this gang will definitely be back!!

See you next year Denver!!

Denver Colorado

La Quinta Denver Golden

Grizzly Rose

American Aquarium

Micky & the Motorcars

Coors Brewery Tours

Woody's Wood Fired Pizza

Cole Porter Band