Monday Travel Memory: Cinque Terre

Hey kids. It’s been awhile. A solid three month absence. Sometimes it’s good to take some distance from stuff, even stuff we love, to come back with better focus and energy. Right? It’s been nice to have some space and not spend so much time at the computer. Sounds like a legit excuse. Maybe nobody even noticed. 

And maybe you did. I know I miss writing on here and sharing bits of our sometimes interesting life. So why the long held breath? This had a little something to do with it:

This is Flinck.

This is Flinck.

Yes, we adopted a tiny puppy from the shelter where I volunteer (Oregon Humane Society). His name is Flinck, in honor of the street we lived on in Amsterdam (Govert Flinckstraat). And, not that I’m biased, he’s the best. 

But back to the topic at hand. As August hit, I realized that I have not been swimming or have even donned a swimsuit this summer. That’s just not right. To me, that’s the quintessential summer experience that I have not had this year. Too many house projects and other commitments have consumed our time. Bummer. Summer bummer.

This had led to some serious reminiscing. About this time last year, we took our summer vacation to Italy. Twelve months and some crazy life changes later, I’m still enchanted. And amazed at just how much Italy has to offer. Oh, Italy. What can I possibly say about you that hasn’t been said before? From your bustling streets in Roma, to the rolling hills of Tuscany, to your seaside luxury in Sorrento, to your decayed elegance in Venice, you truly have it all. And you have more. And on top of all that, you have this glorious little region known as the Cinque Terre.

I know I shared this trip with you before, but it’s fun to look at the pictures with fresh eyes and see the beauty anew. Sometimes I sit here and pinch myself because I cannot believe we were there. While far from a luxurious resort getaway (you lay out on rocks to sunbathe after all), it was the perfect break from reality for my husband and me.

When we arrived, I was instantly smitten with the colorful structures nestled into the rocky cliffs rising from the Ligurian Sea. It was magical. As we walked the narrow “streets” (they can hardly be called streets as barely a moped could squeeze through), you could smell the salty sea and catch whiffs of a grandmother’s sauce on the stove.

Each morning, we would wake up in our tiny room, head out for coffee and fresh fruit, then spend the days alternating between sunbathing on rocks and exploring the twisty streets in each of the five towns. Below are some more pictures that I didn’t include in my original write up. Those initial pictures captured little moments that I felt (at the time) best depicted our experience. Looking back, I realize I didn’t share much of the actual towns or the panoramas that created the wonderful backdrop to all those fried fish cones we devoured. Here you go:

Vernazza

Vernazza

Vernazza

Vernazza

The trail that connects the towns

the trail that connects the towns

Montorosso

Montorosso

Montorosso

Montorosso’s beach scene

Riomaggiore

Riomaggiore

Riomaggiore

Riomaggiore

Kiss!

Kiss! along the trail

sunset from Manarola

sunset from Manarola

Manarola at dusk

Manarola at dusk

happy tree in Corniglia

a happy tree in Corniglia

pretty door in Corniglia

a pretty door in Corniglia

Corniglia

Corniglia

Corniglia

Vernazza

a "street" in Vernazza

a “street” in Vernazza

Negroni & Aperol Spritz for happy hour

Negroni & Aperol Spritz for happy hour

5am quiet

5am quiet in Vernazza

Vernazza at night

Vernazza at night

Our trip to the Cinque Terre was one of my favorite vacations. Ever. These pictures make me want to be back there immediately. August, while brimming with tourists, is still a great time to go. Now if only I could find my bathing suit…

xxx

Holland, is that you? A quaint homage at the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm

I miss Holland. A lot. Especially right now- the warm spring, the sun peeking out, all the tulips blooming and the entire place a colorful explosion. Flowers everywhere. It was the best.

So picture my delight when a friend told me about the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm, right here in Oregon. About an hour’s drive from Portland, it’s just a family run farm with tulip fields, kiddie rides and what I can only describe as carnival food. It was cute. And I was immediately reminded of the beautiful tulip fields in Holland. Checking out the wooden shoe carving booths, I hunted around for people with whom I could possibly practice my Dutch (starting to get rusty), but no such luck. Can’t have it all.

Woodburn, OR

Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm, OR

Woodburn, OR

Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm, OR

Woodburn, OR

Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm, OR

Woodburn, OR

Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm, OR

Woodburn, OR

Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm, OR

Woodburn, OR

Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm, OR

Woodburn, OR

Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm, OR

Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm, OR

I had to get in there.

xxx

P.S. I don’t miss everything about living in Holland.

Day Trip: Mount St. Helens

Dad and I took yet another day trip (see Astoria and the Gorge; our others) up to Washington, hoping for a glimpse of Mount St. Helens, an active volcano that famously erupted back in 1980. As we approached the visitor center, we had high hopes. Once inside, we learned that several roads were still closed due to snow. Snow? What snow? It was completely melted up to that point. We drove in as far as we could, passing snow piled up as tall as the car (oh), stopped in the middle of the road, and waited, thinking that the clouds would part to get a good look at her flat-top.

No such luck. As you’ll see in the pictures, we only got a slice of the pie this time. Ironically, the entire following week was so clear that we could see St. Helens every single day all the way from Portland. Looks like Dad has to come back again.

Mount St. Helens, WA

Visitor Center. Mount St. Helens, WA

Mount St. Helens, WA

Pretty scenery. Mount St. Helens, WA

Mount St. Helens, WA

Abnormally large clovers. Mount St. Helens, WA

Mount St. Helens, WA

Snow as tall as the car. Mount St. Helens, WA

Mount St. Helens, WA

There she (sorta) is. On the right, you can see the slope. Mount St. Helens, WA

Mount St. Helens, WA

A better look in the crater. Mount St. Helens, WA

Mount St. Helens, WA

Winter Wonderland. Mount St. Helens, WA

Verdict? It’s worth a shot. Even though we didn’t see the full monty, there was something special about my Dad and I leaning on the hood of my car, in silence, watching the clouds. You don’t get those moments very often. That was a good one. I won’t forget it.

xxx

Monday Travel Memory: The Sea

Hey all! It’s a sunny Monday and we are officially within the two week mark until we move into our house. After a great weekend, I can’t be anything but excited as we enter this final stretch getting into our home. We’ve been literally displaced for four and a half months now and emotionally displaced for eight and a half. I am so ready to feel settled. Beyond ready. Let’s be real.

For this Monday travel memory, I have a confession to make: I am totally awe-struck by the ocean. Anybody else? My entire life, I have felt this compelling urge drawing me to it. For awhile, I was even considering being a marine biologist and I’m pretty sure it’s because I thought I could play in the water everyday with dolphins or something.

Maybe it’s due to my upbringing in the Midwest; I was far, far away from any coastline and it always felt like this magical, imaginary place that I was lucky enough to see once a year when we would take family trips down to Florida. It was special.

Lake Michigan, while great (get it?), was not the same. It was not enough. And now, I live 90 minutes away from the Pacific Coast here in Oregon. We have gone out to it twice (here and here). Still, when I see signs on the highway pointing to “Ocean Beaches” I can’t help but do a double-take. Oh yeah, it’s right down the road.

As a kid, I loved playing in the sand, collecting shells, chasing crabs. As a teenager, I loved laying out under the sun, listening to TLC and N’Sync refined musical selections on my discman; my skin getting so fried to a crisp tanned that I was unrecognizable. As an adult, I do those things (now with strong SPF), but also just stare out and watch the waves. Feeling small. I know I can only speak for myself, but I tend to have a big personality (probably to make up for my petite size). Sitting and staring out at the ocean, is humbling in a way. You can’t help but feel small.

Pula, Croatia

This photo was taken one early morning on the rocky shores when we road-tripped through Croatia. I think as I age, I become more and more captivated by the sea. I can sit there in total stillness for hours. Mesmerized. So how fitting is this shot? A quiet moment of calm at the insanely gorgeous Croatian coastline near Pula. Wish I could be back there.

xxx