Tag Archives: wine

When in Rome

As I mentioned in my Episode 0 post, Derek and I took a very delayed honeymoon trip to Italy. It was an absolutely wonderful trip, and I thought it would be fun to share here on Brown is the New Pink via a series of posts. I’ll also include some travel tips, just in case you’re considering a trip to Italy, too!

We traveled to Rome, Florence, and Venice for a total of 9 full days. In addition to the main cities, we also took two day trips out of Florence to the Tuscan countryside and to Cinque Terra. I’ll kick off the Italy trip series with our first stop: Rome!

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The journey begins!

DAY 1

We flew out of the Charlotte airport directly to Rome on an overnight flight. The flight went as well as can be expected for international travel, and we managed to get a taxi and travel to our Air BnB without any issues. We loved our Air Bnb in Rome! I highly recommend staying there if you’re planning a trip. I’ll put some info about where we stayed at the bottom of the post for those interested.

TIP: Driving in Italy (especially Rome) is insane! The lines on the road are really more of a suggestion than law. 🙂  Unless you are very confident and comfortable driving in another country, I would suggest using public transport if at all possible.

Given the 6 hour time difference, our 9:45am arrival time felt like 3:45am. We were thrilled to be in Italy but totally exhausted. We ended up taking a brief nap, which was definitely worth it.

After our power nap, it was on to sightseeing! We walked about 45 minutes heading towards the Colosseum and took in the city.

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Piazza Venezia

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Tiber River

We arrived at the Colosseum late in the afternoon. It was actually good timing because we hardly had to wait in line, and it wasn’t very crowded.

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Selfie stick for the win!

TIP: If you’re interested in hearing more about the history of the Colosseum, you may want to consider taking a guided tour instead of the audio tour. The audioguides were just OK here.

It was truly awesome, in the traditional sense of the word, to stand in the Colosseum and talk about its history and significance. Like many places we visited on the trip, there’s just nothing comparable in the US because it’s a relatively new country.

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The Colosseum at sunset.

By the time we walked all around the Colosseum the sights were closing, and we didn’t get a chance to tour the Roman Forum. We were pretty bummed about it! Derek double-majored in biology and ancient history (i.e., lots of Roman history), and I took a Roman art class during college so we were excited about the forum. (Is it super obvious that UNC is a liberal arts college, yet? 🙂 ) We did, at least, check it out from above. It’ll be on our list if we head back to Rome someday!

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Derek looking out over the Roman Forum.

After all that walking and the previous day of travel, we were famished! We stopped at restaurant called Piazza Sforza Cesarini on our way back to the Air BnB. It was a beautiful evening (low humidity, low 70s), so we enjoyed our wine and pizza on the patio.

People were not joking about how cheap wine is in Italy and how often everyone drinks it. I think I found my people!

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Margherita

We both decided on pizza, and it was delicious. (Though the best pizza of the trip was still yet to come in Florence.)

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Al Prosciutto Fungi

TIP x3:

  1. Italians like to enjoy leisurely meals, and the servers usually do not bring the bill (il conto) unless you ask for it.
  2. You do not need to tip! Most places include a service charge. We often left a small tip out of habit but definitely not as much as we would leave in the US.
  3. Expect to pay for water, and don’t expect ice.

We finished walking home and then promptly passed out. Besides our quick power nap, we had been awake for almost 36 hours straight.  It was some of the best sleep of my life.

DAY 2

After a glorious night of sleep we were well rested and ready to explore.

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Looking much more awake!

Checking out the Vatican was our plan for the day.

TIP: Remember to dress modestly for trips to the Vatican. Cover your shoulders and legs down to at least below the knee. (I wore a maxi dress with a sweater which worked out well.)

On our way there we stopped in a little cafe for breakfast. It was one of the few places where we were the only people who spoke English. Ordering was little tricky, but we were able to do it with our shoddy Italian. (By the way if you know any Spanish, it will be helpful in Italy. The languages are more similar than I thought!)

TIP: Most Italians drink coffee/espresso quickly and standing up. Expect to pay more to sit down at some places.

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Latte macchiato, cappuccino, pistachio cream pastry, and apple pastry.

I am so bummed that I can’t remember the name of this place because it was one of our favorite meals throughout the whole trip. The coffee/espresso in Italy is to die for generally, and the pistachio pastry was AMAZING.

Next we headed to the Vatican Museums. The audioguides here were excellent, and the museum is HUGE.

TIP: Buy your Vatican Museum tickets in advance. We spent about an hour waiting in line to buy tickets while the people who bought them in advance zoomed right in.

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Nearly every room has an ornate ceiling.

The Sistine Chapel was, of course, amazing to see in person. (Though, to be honest, the crowds pushing around in there sort of take away from the experience.) However, my favorite part of the museum were the Rafael Rooms. They were unsurprisingly beautiful, but I most enjoyed hearing about the symbology and history of the rooms. It was fascinating!

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Perseus with the Head of Medusa

After several hours walking around the museum, we were pooped and decided to start heading back toward our Air BnB. On the way back we stopped at St. Peter’s Square.
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St. Peter’s Square

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Views on the walk home.

We capped off the day with happy hour on our Air Bnb’s gorgeous terrace and a relaxing dinner at a small restaurant down the street.

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Happy hour on the terrace in Rome. NBD.

The next day we headed to Florence for four days of our adventure. Stay tuned for more trip recaps!

Air BnB Info


Vatican Terrace

Rome, Lazio, Italy

<blockquote>This elegant and bright apartment is located on the ground floor of an elegant building close to St. Peter’s. It has recently been renovated with high quality white oak parquet floors in all rooms….</blockquote></div>https://www.airbnb.com/embeddable/airbnb_jssdk</div>

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Birthday Fun {Weekend Recap}

Wow, I can’t believe I haven’t posted since the end of January. Last week was insane at work. I had my patient case load (which is more than enough to keep me busy), and I was covering for another social worker. Whew! I’m glad it’s over. This week is already so much better.

Enough about work though. I’m writing because I want to share some of my weekend. I celebrated my 25th birthday!

Well, actually my coworkers kicked off the celebrations on Thursday by bringing me this delicious, gigantic piece of strawberry shortcake from Nantucket Grill here in Durham.

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Personally I think their food is just OK for the price, with the exception of their cake. It is AMAZING. They have a good variety, too. It’s definitely worth checking it out if you’re local.

On Friday I took a half-day at work. I decided to take the afternoon off to get my hair cut and have a little “me time.” I was starving when I left work, so I headed to one of my favorite restaurants in downtown Durham: Parker and Otis.

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It’s conveniently right around the corner from where I get my hair cut. I got the three salad plate with tortellini pasta salad, fruit, and curry chicken salad. So good!

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After lunch I walked down the street to get a much-needed trim and highlights. While my hair did its thing, I read trashy magazines and drank wine. Yes, my hair salon offers complimentary adult beverages, and yes, I drank wine at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. I was celebrating, and it was 5 o’clock somewhere. 🙂

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I spent the rest of the afternoon laying on the couch watching Friends. Derek got home later in the evening (thanks med school), and we headed out for a late dinner at Sake Bomb, our favorite sushi place. In addition to sushi, I got this fancy drink. It’s called a “Melon Ball.”

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On Saturday, my actual birthday, I received several birthday phone calls, cards, and Facebook notes. Nothing makes you feel more loved than hearing from friends and family. My parents even posted this collage! The outfits are excellent.

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Derek and I slept in that morning and then headed to Target to pick up a few things. In typical Target fashion this resulted in us walking out of the store with way more than we planned to get. #1 rule of Target: always get a cart. You will need it.

After our Target trip we got outside for a walk. It was a beautiful sunny day, which is amazing considering my birthday typically coincides with terrible weather.

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By the time we got back we had worked up an appetite. Derek took me out for lunch at The Original Q Shack. 

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I would argue that the best part of living in the South is barbecue.

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After lunch Derek and I relaxed at home for the rest of the afternoon. He had to be at the hospital at 6am on Sunday for work, so I headed over to my best friend Jenna’s house for some more birthday fun while he got a good night’s sleep.

Jenna, my other friends Katy and Julie, and I spent the evening eating pizza, drinking wine, and watching funny movies. I couldn’t ask for a better way to spend the evening. 🙂 (Side note: I love the name of this wine we drank.)

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On Sunday morning Julie, Jenna, and I went to church and grabbed brunch at Relish. I had never been there before since I’m not out in Raleigh that often, and the food was great. I got a BLT with fried egg, and it was the best brunch I’ve had in a long time.

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Loved hanging out with these two!

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Finally, Jenna and I wrapped up the weekend with hiking at Umstead. The weather here was incredible on Sunday. It was sunny and 70 degrees!

We found some rocks that reminded us of the cover of The LIttle Mermaid and decided to recreate Ariel’s pose.

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Nailed it!

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It was a great birthday weekend, and I’m so thankful for my wonderful husband, family, and friends who helped me celebrate. Here’s to making 25 the best year yet!

4 Bridges Training {Week 10}

Greetings! How was your weekend?? I had one of those great, rare weekends when you have fun AND get a lot of things done. I spent Friday night over at my best friend Jenna’s house drinking wine and watching the Shonda trilogy– Grey’s AnatomyScandal, and How to Get Away With Murder. Saturday was spent around the house with Derek. We did a lot of cleaning and organizing, which was much-needed. We also started watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine. It absolutely cracks me up; I definitely suggest checking it out if you haven’t already. Today we had our friends over to watch the Panthers game. The game was not pretty, but we had fun and ate a lot of delicious food. On Tuesday, I will be sharing a vegetarian chili recipe that I tried out for the party. NOM.

On a sad note, I did not run last week. My foot wasn’t doing well, so I decided to rest and just do my long run today. At first I felt great. My legs were much better than they have been in a couple of weeks. Then, around mile 4 of 10, my left calf suddenly started to hurt. It wasn’t bad at first, so I kept running. By mile 5 the pain got so bad that I couldn’t continue. I actually had to call Derek to come pick me up. (He’s the best.) I’ve been limping around since then because it hurts just to walk. I am so bummed. I’ve been training for 2 months, and I really hope things will get better so I can run on the 19th. 😦

Needless to say, I’m not sure how running will go this week. I’m hoping this is just a strain, and I’ll be good to go in a couple of days. Cross your fingers for me, please! Anyway, below is my tentative plan for this week.


4 Bridges Half-Marathon Training – Week 10

Monday: Yoga + strength

Tuesday: 3 miles

Wednesday: 5 miles or cross-train

Thursday: 3 miles + strength

Friday: Rest

Saturday: Cross-train for 50 minutes

Sunday: 10 miles

In Case of Accident Bring Cheese and Crackers {Fun Friday}

Well I’m posting another Fun “Friday” post on Saturday. Fail. I didn’t get back into town from Kentucky until 1AM Tuesday morning, and it threw off my week a bit. Apologies for the delay! Without further ado, here are some pictures, videos, and stories that made me smile or laugh this week. Enjoy!

Derek is a big Star Wars fan, so I got a kick out of showing him this picture.

According to the source, this little guy won 3rd place in a PetSmart Star Wars competition. I’d love to see the 1st and 2nd place pups because I think this one is great.

Since I’m apparently going through a dog phase, next up is a video of a very vocal dog who hates the alarm clock more than most people do.

You can almost hear him whining, “Turn it offfffffff!”

As a social worker, learning about innovative, community-based non-profit organizations always makes me smile. This week I found out about The Oregon Public House, which is a non-profit pub.  The Oregon Public House seeks to create a “family-friendly pub environment where our neighbors from the surrounding area can come to enjoy community around good food and craft beer while supporting great causes.” The video below explains more about the non-profit and the charities involved.

I’m a fan of their motto as well.

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What a cool idea. If I ever make it out to Oregon I plan on visiting.

Finally, I love this winery’s sense of humor. One can only hope for an “unfortunate” wine truck accident.

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In case of accident bring cheese and crackers. Lots and lots of cheese and crackers. Source.

Happy weekend to you!

Anniversaries, Tears, and BBQ {Weekend Recap}

If you’ve seen some of my other daily life posts, such as Tacos, Ice Cream, and Massages or Tornados, Meal Planning, and My Last Night at the Clinic, you know that I am not exactly creative when it comes to the post titles. I’m just lazy. I like to be descriptive, but still have an air of mystery. You may ask yourself, what anniversary? Who’s crying? Why didn’t I eat barbeque this weekend?? All of your questions will be answered. (Except the one about barbeque. Why didn’t you eat barbeque this weekend??? It’s delicious.)

Friday, June 6th, was my parents 33rd wedding anniversary. I had fun putting our wedding photos side by side. It’s cool to see how much I look like my mom.  I’m blessed to have parents that have been married for more than 3 decades, and they are a great example of marriage for Derek and me. Even though they’ve been together for most of their lives now they still go out on dates and try new things together. Their relationship shows that love takes work, but it is absolutely worth it with the right person. Here’s to 33 more years!

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My mom and dad are on the left. They were 21 when they got married!

After I got home from my first week of work on Friday, I parked it on the couch. I’m definitely readjusting to waking up so early again. I drank wine, ate Milk Duds, and watched a few episodes from the new season of Orange is the New Black. Nothing says, “I’m an adult with a real job,” like cheap wine and candy. Oh well, I thoroughly enjoyed it. 🙂

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Friday nights are wild and crazy at my house.

I cleaned up the house a bit on Saturday, but mostly spent time relaxing. I went to see the movie The Fault In Our Stars, which is based on a book of the same title, with my friend Caroline. The movie was great, but the tissues were a necessity. If you don’t already know, the movie is a love story about two teenagers who meet in a cancer support group. Though it is predictably sad, the message is surprisingly uplifting.

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Pro Tip: Mascara is a no-no for this movie.

On Saturday evening, Derek and I finally started watching House of Cards. It wasn’t what I was expecting at all, but we both love it already.

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Frank Underwood is up to no good.

On Sunday, we went out for lunch. I was having an intense craving for barbeque. It’s definitely not the healthiest food, but everything in moderation, right? We went to The Original Q Shack in Durham, which is actually right next door to NANATACO. It was delicious. Derek and I were both especially impressed by the hushpuppies. I’m not normally a huge fan because they are sometimes dry, but these were crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. Delish!

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Smoked pork butt plate from The Original Q Shack with macaroni ‘n’ cheese, green beans, and hush puppies.

I spent the rest of the day grocery shopping and getting ready for the week while Derek took a much deserved break from studying. (Only 8 more days until his big exam!!) I made maple glazed salmon for dinner, and some of our friends came over to watch Game of Thrones. All in all, it was the perfect relaxed weekend to have after my first week of work.

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