Farewell Subotica, Serbia

After a year, we are packing up our life in Subotica, Serbia. 
This packing disaster looks strangely familiar to me. Exactly one year ago, we were unpacking those very same boxes and beginning to arrange our new life in Subotica, Serbia. Luckily, our Serbian apartment was fully furnished; so only 30 boxes of personal items made the trip across the ocean with us. As Chris worked, I initially filled my days with unpacking and Serbian language studies. I self-taught myself by writing common Serbian phrases on post-it-notes and carrying those little, yellow helpers all over town.

Shortly after we moved, we met Marko, Lela, Sanela, Darko, Zoran, Sladjana, Danijela, and Nikola. They were warm, inviting and interested in our story; because of their acceptance, we started to feel more like friends than foreigners. Eventually, I started teaching private English lessons, and that provided me with some structure as well as flexibility in my schedule. With my first paycheck, I bought a juicer, and that juicer started every day with me. When Chris was able to take time off of work, we traveled! It's our dream to see as much of the world as possible, and we tried to make the most of our first year in Europe.

After a year, we had friends, we could communicate and we were generally comfortable in Subotica, and then - just like that, we were back to square one. Chris' company decided to transfer him to Belgium, so with that decision, our dusty packing boxes found their way out from under our bed. For a month, we sorted and packed and cleaned and said tearful goodbyes over many cups of coffee. As I reflect on our year in Serbia, I have to say that I'm glad it was hard for us to say goodbye; those emotions prove that we deeply invested in Subotica. We were more than two strangers passing through; for a year, we were immersed in the Serbian culture and we fell in love with Her people. This is the adventure that we signed up for, so while we're excited to call another country "home,"we will always have a special place in our heart for our first European home - Subotica, Serbia.

Just a few pictures of our last couple days in Subotica:

My Serbian bike is making the trek to Belgium - numbered and ready to go!
Last dinner with our awesome friends in Subotica (we are missing Danijela).
In front of the Subotica library. 
My last palacinke (crepe) at Boss Caffe. This was my favorite dessert. 
A sweet goodbye gift from our friends.
Wearing our American flare for the final farewell. 
We will miss you so much!! You are all invited to Belgium!
Last glimpse of Subotica's City Hall. 
When we moved to Serbia, we had no idea what to expect. A lot of people grimaced when we mentioned where we were moving, and even more people asked us to point Serbia out on a map. Chris and I moved without any judgements or expectations and we decided to make the most of our time in Serbia. I found a quote by Aldous Huxley that touches a cord in my heart, "To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries." 

Next stop on our little adventure: BELGIUM!!

Thanks for reading!!


Carried Away in Capri.

On our way to Capri, we saw Mount Vesuvius in the morning mist. 
While in Almafi, we decided to hop on a ferry and cruise on over to the Italian island of Capri. Because a little afternoon cruise to an exotic island sounded romantic and oh so "Italian-ish"! I was envisioning a sexy, intimate sailboat that allowed me to dance around deck with my long hair softly blowing in the wind (lofty dreams that I don't have the budget for!); instead, we squeezed onto an industrial sized ferry with 1000 other tourists all heading in the same direction. The 20-minute ride was nothing glamorous, there was no dancing, and my hair turned into one bit knot all for a whopping $40 (round trip). I didn't really do any research before going to Capri, so the ferry boat may not be the most economical way to see the island, although it was very convenient. Some day, I would love to get back to Capri, and perhaps hire a small boat and driver to show me and Chris around the Island. Now that sounds romantic, eh? Still dreaming when I should just be focusing on how lovely my first trip to Capri was!

Have you been to Capri? If so, how did you get there and what did you see? Did you hire a boat driver to show you around the island? I would love to hear your experience!

Capri really is stunning, it's truly one of those places you must see for yourself. My pictures just don't do Her justice! Once we got off the ferry, we hiked about 25 minutes up hill to the main Piazza in Capri town. There is a bus you can take, but why not choose the picturesque walking trail where you enjoy quaint homes blanketed in pink and purple flowers?!

From the Piazza, we found an information center and followed a route which took us through the Gardens of Augustus, gave us a great view of the famous Faraglioni rocks, wound us down Via Krupp and landed us on a wonderful little beach close to Marina Piccola. After lounging around and swimming for a few hours, we treated ourselves to the best gelato we have ever tasted! Buonocore Gelateria is close to Piazza Umberto, and while you wait in line, they're making your waffle cone! The gelato is delicious and that warm waffle cone adds just a little something extra to the whole experience!

View from the center of Capri town. 
The Morris' posing close to Capri Piazza Umberto.
Every corner of Capri is picture-perfect!

In the Gardens of Augustus - Capri. 
From the Gardens of Augustus, you get a great view of Faraglioni. 

Winding our way down Via Krupp in search of a beach. 
Our small little beach close to Marina Piccola.
Marina Piccola - Great looking beach, but you have to pay for your seats. 

Looking back on Capri harbor. 
I just love boats!
I'm dreaming about living in Capri. 
Hopefully this is not my first and only trip to Capri. Next time (if there is a next time), I want to hire a boat with a driver and float around the entire island! I know we didn't even scratch the surface here! There is so much more to enjoy and fall in love with in Capri.


Summer in Rome, Italy

Me and Lindsay sipping our first coffee in Rome. 
"Be slow to fall into friendship; but when thou art in, 
continue firm and constant." - Socrates

My dear friend Lindsay is one of those precious, constant, and irreplaceable souls. She cares deeply about people and protects that which she loves with fierce intensity. For seven years, Lindsay's been one of my closest confidants and she's never opposed to sharing a bottle of malbec or pinot noir. After all, isn't that a true test of friendship?

Lindsay introduced me to Chris, she has always spoken the truth even when the truth hurt, she's hosted several birthday parties for me, played an important role when Chris' proposed to me, and she supported me as my Matron of Honor when I married the man of my dreams.

You can imagine my excitement when Lindsay announced that her and her Hubby would spend the entire month of July in Europe. Lindsay and Evan managed to take a month off of work, and since it had been Lindsay's dream to see Italy, that is exactly where they planned on spending the duration of their European vacation.

At the beginning of July, I booked a $40 round trip Ryan Air flight from Budapest to Rome, and the three of us spent two days seeing the sights, drinking coffee and sharing pizza in the ancient city.

Here are a few "Know Before You Go" tips from my trip to Rome:

- First off, the city of Rome is magical! It is a part of history that everyone must experience at least once!

- Some 7-10 million tourists visit Rome every single year, and I think most of them were there at the beginning of July. If you go in the summer, prepare for crowded metros, expensive lodging, and 2-hour lines to get into main attractions.

- If you want to avoid lines (and save time and money) for - say the Colosseum or Vatican Museums, plan ahead and book your tickets online.

- The metro is easy to use, so in order to save money on lodging, book outside of the city center but make sure you are within walking distance of a metro stop.

- That being said, there are numerous summer strikes that halt the transportation system. Ask your hotel if they know of any planned strikes while you're visiting so that you can plan your trip accordingly. When we were in Rome, there was a strike on the Friday we were trying to leave the city. That Friday, the city demanded that everyone must be able to get to and from work, so the trains, busses, and metro ran until 8:30am, shut down, and then started running again at 5pm for the evening commute.

- My friends, Jacob and Heather, showed us around the Trastevere neighborhood and that quickly became my favorite part of Rome. The metro does not run into Trastevere, but the busses do. It is worth a trip - trust me!

- It was ridiculously hot at the beginning of July (some people said we visited in the middle of a heat wave), so next time I visit Rome, I will avoid July and August. It should be comfortable (and less crowded) to tour Rome in the months of May and October.

- You will see ancient water fountains all around Rome - DRINK THE WATER! The water is clean and very refreshing! If you visit in the hot summer months, you will begin searching for those little fountains from heaven!

Enjoy a few pictures from our quick trip through Rome:


Paradise Found - Nocelle and Positano, Italy

From Nocelle looking back on Positano, Italy. This is the stuff dreams are made of. 
Summer traveling in Italy. Oh where to begin?! No matter how thoroughly planned your vacation, the Italian summer has a way of reminding you to relax, be patient and enjoy a glass of wine along the way. It doesn't matter that you carry a shiny Capitol One credit card (no international transaction fees - yes please); you'll still find yourself scurrying to the nearest ATM when the tour company discovers their credit card machine mysteriously "broken," or your B&B simple doesn't even have said machine.

Lucky for my organized-type-A-self, a sweet girl friend in Rome warned me to hold my schedule "loosely" while exploring Italy. Heather said something to the extent of, "In the summer, you can expect train strikes; sometimes you'll be warned and sometimes you'll be caught off guard. Oh yeah, and often public transportation is late or just doesn't show up at all. That's totally normal. You have to just enjoy the country and don't have too many concrete plans while in Italy. If you can relax and drink up the culture (and some wine and lemoncello), you'll love every second in Italy."

I met my best friend from Kentucky, Lindsay, and her Hubby, Evan, in Rome (blog to come), and the three of us made our way towards the Amalfi Coast. Heather had warned us of a 8:30am train strike the day we were leaving Rome, so we caught an earlier train out of the busy city. Once in Naples, we were met with one of those surprise strikes that Heather had warned us of. There was nothing we could do but wait around for three hours and finally push our way onto an overcrowded, un-airconditioned commuter train bound for Sorrento. From Sorrento, we took an hour long bus ride to Positano, and then our final leg was a 20-minute bus ride through narrow, cliff side roads wide enough for only one vehicle.

Needless to say, we were exhausted by the time we got off the bus. Our six hour journey had turned into more of an 11-hour-trek, and I could not help but remind myself of Heather's wise words. Just enjoy the journey, Lana. . . .

In the next moment, I turned around - and gasped! Evening rays kissed the landscape, and the view from Nocelle back on the hillside town of Positano was simply breathtaking. As we walked towards our B&B, I couldn't stop taking pictures. We arrived at Villa Sofia  and were warmly greeted by Luciana and her brother Raffaele. Raffaele showed us to the poolside terrace where he treated us to homemade lemoncello. We relaxed as the sun slowly slipped into the ocean. The moment was worth 11 hours of traveling and every stressful leg of the journey from Rome-> Nocelle. I have to give Evan mad props for picking Villa Sofia.

Had Lindsay, Evan and I just discovered paradise?!

Lemoncello on the terrace at Villa Sofia in Nocelle, Italy. 

Lindsay and me on our terrace overlooking Nocelle.
Evan and Lindsay - Starting our hike down 2000 stairs. 
Beauty everywhere you look. 
Small little beach we found at the bottom of  our 2000 step hike.
Entering the dreamy town of Positano, Italy. 
View from the main beach in Positano, Italy. 
Italian coursed dinner recommended by Villa Sofia.
So much dessert!
How we ended the night - with the owner, his son and a HUGE bottle of lemoncello! Fun memories. 
Goodbye Nocelle, Positano and Villa Sofia. You're in my soul and I will visit again!
Heather was right, if you can see Italy at a leisurely pace, you'll fall head over heals for her beauty. I cannot wait to get back to Amalfi with Chris, and Villa Sofia has so be on my itinerary.

This may be the closest to heaven that I have ever been. Seriously!