An Adventure with Family in Paris and Rome – October 2015

At the end of September, I made my way back to Missouri for my youngest brother’s wedding.  It was nice to meet his fiancée, Sara, and get to know her a bit.  I also had the opportunity to catch up with some dear friends and family and finally meet my sweet new niece, Eloise!  Below are a few pictures of my time back at home.

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As the days kept passing by, I realized that my Mom, Aunt Sharon, and Karla were really coming to Europe!  I mean, it was really happening!  I had been planning for so long, but it hadn’t really sunk in until a few days before we left.  On our way to the airport we had a bit of a mishap – Mom had forgotten to pack her dress for the Moulin Rouge.  We had a little bit of time so we ran to Dillard’s at Zona Rosa to try to find another dress.  Luckily we found one and saved the day!

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We made it to the airport at the same time as Karla so it all worked out perfectly.  Doyle told me not to lose Karla on the trip.  I had laughed when he told me, but later when we got to Charlotte we would see that he wasn’t kidding.  We lost her momentarily, but found her shortly after.  In Kansas City, we had a bit of trouble going through security (mom kept setting off the metal detector for some reason), but we ended up making it through just fine.  Here we are at the airport waiting for our flight!

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Here we are on the plane!

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The flight over the Atlantic went pretty well.  Once we got to Paris we had to take a bus to the terminal.

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We were supposed to take EasyBus from the airport to the city center, but for some reason our bus was not there (the bus that was there was not due to leave for another hour and a half).  I eventually convinced the manager to have the driver go ahead and take the load of passengers waiting for their ride that was scheduled and never came.  EasyBus is a cheap way to and from the airport, but their service is sometimes totally unreliable.  I would only book if you have plenty of time.

Andrew met us at the bus stop and we made our way to the metro station.  Meandering through the metro with four other people who had luggage seemed a whole lot easier in my mind, but we made it regardless.

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Their flat!

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After we got the girls settled into their Paris apartment, we took a walk to visit Frame Truck.  Here they are walking through Champ de Mars.

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We visited Frame Truck for some delicious tacos.  Andrew’s sous chef, Ogier, even showed Aunt Sharon the inside of the truck!

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The weather was a little cold out so we popped inside the restaurant to warm up with some lattes.

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Our next stop had to be to visit the most famous lady in town.  La Tour Eiffel.

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The next item on our list was a boat tour, but we had to take a walk along the Seine to get there.  I really love walking along this river.  Apparently the girls thought about going for a swim…that is something that I definitely would not do.

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Here are the girls posing with the Louvre in the background.

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We had to take a break near the Henry IV statue on Pont Neuf.

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Heading downstairs for our boat tour!

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I think everyone enjoyed the boat tour.  It was a nice relaxing way to see some of the major monuments from the water and the weather was perfect!

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After the boat tour I snapped a couple pictures on Pont Neuf.  The first is of the Conciergerie and the second is of the Eiffel Tower.  Paris is beautiful.  Andrew and I are so lucky to be living here, even if only for a brief time.

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Mom thought about trying the public toilets, this quickly turned into a no.  I’ll admit that they are not great, but if you need one in a pinch it will do.

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In between the tour and going home, we went to She’s Cake and picked up some cheesecakes to try.  Sephora was there and sent us home some savory cheesecake as well – that was so nice of her.  Here we are on our metro ride back to the apartment complete with entertainment.

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We decided to have dinner at home that night.  This consisted of wine, 8 different types of cheesecake (2 savory), apples, pears, bread, and baked camembert.  It was a delicious meal, maybe not the most healthy, but delicious.

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We met the girls at the apartment on Sunday morning.  Mom came down to let us in, but forgot to bring the key to get back in.  Lesson learned 🙂

After we headed out of the apartment, we proposed a bike ride to Aunt Sharon.  She agreed to do it!  Doesn’t she look cute?  The other gals wanted to try it, but decided that it might be a little too difficult.  Riding on the cobblestone streets is a little challenging in itself.  Click here to watch the video of Sharon’s ride.

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We had breakfast that morning at Le Suffren.  Mom was brave and asked the server where the toilet was in French.  The server was very nice.

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After breakfast we ran into one of the runners in the marathon going on that morning.

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On our way to the market, we popped into one of the patisseries.

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Market time!  During our market adventure, we found some kids books about Paris in English.  Mom didn’t like the fish smell.

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I informed mom that “pain” in French meant bread and not pain.

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Sharon bought some figs for us to try later.

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These little poodles looked so cold.

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Once we were finished at the market we made our way via metro to Rue Mouffetard.

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This is one of the emergency vehicles.

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Here are the ladies strolling down Rue Mouffetard.  All of the shops seemed to be open today; I had thought they were all closed on Sundays over here.

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We popped into Dose Dealer de Café for some coffee.  They also apparently have Sexy Water.

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Finally we found ourselves at the dancing and live music!

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We even convinced Sharon to dance with Michel.  She looked pretty good out there.  Click here to watch a little video.

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Some of our friends (Katia, Martin, Al, and France) joined us on Rue Mouffetard to meet our family.

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This is one of the buildings along Rue Mouffetard.

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After the dancing we all went to lunch at one of the bistros.  Martin is with us too, he just took the picture for us.

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We ordered escargot for the girls to try.  Did mom like it?  Click here to find out.

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I also tried steak tartare for the first time.  It was actually pretty good.

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Mom also tried the French onion soup and Andrew had the duck.

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The girls look ready to seize the rest of the day!

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These are the marvelous treats at Aux Merveilleux de Fred – we picked some up and tried them later that day.

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Coffee break at Coutume Instituutti.

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We walked all the way to Fontaine Saint-Michel!

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A guy was playing an erhu next to the fountain.  Click here to listen to him play.

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There’s Notre Dame!

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I love the architecture in Paris.

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That night we went to a wine tasting at Ô Chateau.  It was a lot of fun and I think we all at least learned a little bit about wine.  For example, in southwest France a meal without wine is basically called breakfast.

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My mom can be caught saying funny things pretty much all the time.  I think at one point I brought up dark chocolate and she responds to me with this:  “I don’t like dark chocolate, I like Hershey’s.  I know what I like.”  Oh, mom.  It was really hard to get her to try new things on this trip, but she did usually come around after lots of pushing.  We joked with them that the roles of parent and child were reversed this trip, especially at one point when the three ladies were on their phones at the table and Andrew and I were just looking at them.  I wasn’t sure where to write this in my blog, but I wanted to make sure I didn’t forget.

Here we are on the bus ride home from the wine tasting!

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On Monday morning Andrew and I picked up breakfast on our way to their apartment.  Here we are outside their flat.

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Breakfast is served!  We had a pain au chocolat, bread with jam, apple, yogurt, and the figs Sharon picked up at the market the day before.

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The Louvre was the next thing on our list that day.

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This is the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel.  If you look in the middle you can see the Luxor Obelisk at Place de la Concorde and behind that you can see the Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile.  Sadly we wouldn’t make it up to the Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile up close this trip.

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Waiting in line to get into the Louvre.

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Below are all of our pictures inside the Louvre.  We got to see many of the things the girls wanted to see, but we were so tired by the end of it.  That place is massive!

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We are finished with you, Louvre!  Now we must head home to get ready for the Moulin Rouge!

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The elevator in the apartment building is quite small.  That is pretty standard for Paris.

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We are ready for the Moulin Rouge!  I think we all cleaned up pretty nice.

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Here they are on the bus ride.  Karla’s face cracks me up.

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In front of the Moulin Rouge!

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We did the dinner and show at the Moulin Rouge.  It was a little expensive to do, but definitely worth it in my opinion.  We all enjoyed the show and meal very much.  Mom’s mouth was dropped during most of the show.  I didn’t realize that the dancers would be completely topless (I was thinking they would have pasties over their nipples).  Mom’s comment about the show was priceless:  “Cannot believe how much I liked the itty bitty titty girls.”

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We took a taxi home from the show.  We managed to find one that could fit the five of us.  Mom got a little sick on the ride home because the driver was going fast, but I was able to tell him to slow down because my mom was feeling sick.  Yes, I told him in French.  I’m not fluent at all, but I get by.

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On Tuesday morning, we got a bit of a late start because mom was feeling a little nauseous.  I think it might have been a combination of the wine and the crazy car ride home the night before.  We rested at the apartment for a bit (I think it did us all some good) and then headed to the Eiffel Tower for a little photo shoot.  These girls were so fun to photograph!

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Now we are in line to go up in the Eiffel Tower!  Going all the way to the summit!

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At the 2nd floor!  In the 3rd picture you can see the Louvre.

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Here we are at the very top!

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Sharon met a lady (from Canada) at the top who was also celebrating a birthday that month.

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These three are so cute!

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After we were Eiffel Towered out, we took a taxi to the Montmartre area.  On Karla’s pinterest request, we had lunch at Le Consulat.  This lunch consisted of vin chaud, a croque monsieur, escargot, and chicken.  I think the escargot is better here than at the first place and it is served in the shells!

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Wandering the streets of Montmartre.

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I love this door.  It is one of my favorites in Paris.

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These are some of the steps I could have made the girls go up.

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This is the artists quarter.

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In the distance we see Sacré-Cœur.

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Mom and Karla look so cute walking together.

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I spotted a street performer on the side of the building.  There are always quite a few around this area.

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The ladies enjoyed visiting Sacré-Cœur.  The church is very beautiful.  In the first picture Sharon is contemplating life.  The steps of Sacré-Cœur are a good place to do that.

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Tuesday night was dinner at Frame night!  Here are mom and I in front of the Eiffel Tower on our way to Frame.

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At Frame, the chef came out to greet us, and we had a pretty good view of the Eiffel Tower.

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Andrew gave the girls a tour of the garden too.

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The bartender came by and asked us our drink preferences and our favorite color.  He concocted different drinks based on those suggestions.  He did a pretty good job.

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Santé!

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Then the food arrived…so good!  Dinner at Frame was amazing as always!  My husband is pretty awesome.

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He took us all up to the 10th floor after dinner to see the Eiffel Tower at night.  A perfect end to a wonderful day!

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On their last day in Paris, I took them to Notre Dame.  Here they are in the metro station, Cluny – La Sorbonne.  I like the ceiling at this station.

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Notre Dame de Paris!

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This is Hôtel de Ville.  We passed it on our way to BHV where we did a little shopping.

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After a little shopping, we took the metro to Palais Garnier to visit the beautiful opera house.  This was my third visit and I still love it.

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The girls still wanted to do a little shopping after the opera house tour, so I took them to Galeries Lafayette.  Karla wanted to go to Chanel, but the line was so long.  The security guard did not like me taking a picture of the sign.

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Galeries Lafayette is such a beautiful building!  I was always intimidated to shop here, but I think I may come back sometime because the prices don’t seem as crazy as I had imagined.

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Afterwards we made our way to our apartment – they were finally going to get to see the tiny place we inhabit.  There was a little market going on along Rue du Commerce.

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We did our laundry here!

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I had bought some macaroons at Pierre Hermé in Galeries Lafayette and we sampled them with some wine.

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After laundry was completed, we tried out the new crêpe place next to our apartment.  Karla ended up buying her cider cup because it said 1952 on it!

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That night the girls took the metro back to their flat all by themselves.  It was only two stops, but still an accomplishment.  I watched them walk all the way down the long hallway to the platform.  It felt strange not going with them.

On Thursday morning, we got around to go to Rome.  On the bus shuttle from the plane to the terminal in Rome, Sharon was already meeting other travelers.  She is a socialite!

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Our flat in Rome was amazing!  The only downside was that even though there were three showers, you couldn’t all shower at once due to the lack of hot water.

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Once we were settled in we walked around the neighborhood for a little bit.  We get artsy with our photographs sometimes.

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We took a look at the bakery, Panella, which was just down the street from us.  Lots of neat and delicious things for sell.

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That night for dinner, we opted to stay close to the apartment and tried Trattoria Morgana upon the recommendation of our host.  It was just downstairs from our flat.  All of the food was pretty good.  I really liked the ricotta cheese & spinach hand-made ravioli with butter and sage.

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I told mom that she had to wait for everyone else’s food to arrive before she ate more.

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I really wanted to try the tiramisu, but they were out for the day.  We went ahead and ordered some other desserts.  The cheesecake was tasty.

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We decided to go for a walk after dinner and found ourselves at Ornelli.  Gelato and cappuccinos seemed like a good idea even though we had already had some dessert earlier.  We had to have gelato; we were in Italy after all!

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Andrew and I went on an adventure to find milk and butter after eating our gelato.  We ended up finding butter at one store, but they were out of milk.  I took this picture on the way back to the apartment.

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For breakfast, we enjoyed some of the bread, jam, and cake that mom had bought at Panella the night before.

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After breakfast we set out on a long walk to find our food tour group.  Mom was leading the way!

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We passed through Parco Del Colle Oppio on our way.  This park is right next to the Colosseum.

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There is the beautiful Colosseum!

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We came across this guy dressed up as a Roman soldier.  Even though Mom and Karla tried to kill him, he still showed them some love.

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Another shot of the Colosseum…there will be many more.

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Now we are back on the road…

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We passed by some ruins on our way.  Ruins are literally everywhere in this town.

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This is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

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Here is a random statue.

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We continued our quest…I spotted #23 along the way.

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We came up to one point and noticed that there were cats everywhere…and I mean EVERYWHERE!

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This was a beautiful flower shop.  What a neat way to plant flowers!

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We had to cross the Tiber River (Fiume Tevere).

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Finally we made it to Antica Caffetteria!  This was our starting point for the food tour.  We decided to have a little snack before it started.  I loved the star shaped cookie!  I think it had coconut in it.

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Our guide, Eric, has arrived and we are ready to start the tour!

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Our first stop was at Pasticceria Trastevere.  We tried the bignè, which is basically a cream puff.  It was really good!  There were lots of other treats in her shop that I wish we could have tried.

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The next stop was at Antica Caciara.  Learning French has made me realize how similar other words are in different languages.  For example, cheese in French is fromage and it is formaggi in Italian.  Speaking of cheese, we sampled two different kinds, pecorino romano and parmesan reggiano.  I do love cheese!

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The shop did sell more than just cheese.

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Our third stop was one of my favorites – street food!  We went to I Supplì and tried the supplì, a fried rice ball.  It was so good!  Eric told us that the size of them was traditionally 1/3 bigger.

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Porchetta was the next item for us to sample, so Eric took us to Antica Norcineria.  We tasted bread with roasted pork, rosemary, and pepper.

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The little old lady at the cash register was cute.

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Up until 1974 there were no supermarkets in Rome.  This is the San Cosimato Market.

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We sampled some prosciutto with melon at one of the stalls.

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The next stop was for gelato at Fatamorgana.  This was probably Mom’s favorite on the food tour.  I loved it as well and wish we could have went back a second time.  We learned how to find the real, best gelato in Rome – look for boring colors (for example banana should be white and pistachio a boring green).  Our guide said he remembered going to one of Fatamorgana’s original shops because it was near his grandparents.  I sampled the banana with lime and the pistachio lucano.  Andrew tried the ricotta, honey, & coconut – that one was delicious!

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We always love walking through different cities and Rome was no exception.  It is a little dirtier than some, but I still think it is beautiful.

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This bench is a cool way to repurpose an old barrel!  When we own a house one day maybe we can bring some of these ideas to life 🙂

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Our lunch stop on the food tour was at Enoteca Ferrara.  This building used to be a convent.  We sampled three different pasta dishes (ravioli with ricotta and spinach, gnocchi with smoked cheese, and tonnarelli with black pepper) along with some red wine.

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The tables in the restaurant were cute.

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After lunch we wandered through the streets to the next stop on our tour.  I loved the sign next to the restaurant that said, “We Are Against War and Tourist Menu.”

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The next stop on our list was Innocenti.  Here we sampled two kinds of biscotti or cookies as we know them to be.  One was with lemon and apricot jam and the other was called brutti ma buoni which means “ugly, but good cookie.”

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Beauty is everywhere.

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The last stop on our tour was at Spirito di Vino.  The wine cellar in this building is older than the Colosseum (it was created in the 1st century B.C.) and it used to be a synagogue.

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Upstairs in the restaurant, we finished our adventure with crème brûlée (served cold here) and sweet wine.  We learned that crème brûlée is actually an English dessert.  It was given the French name because French was the language at court.  Sharon doesn’t usually like crème brûlée, but she liked it served cold.

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The food tour was an excellent start to our adventure in Rome!  After the tour we ended up going to another restaurant on Eric’s list called Da Enzo Al 29 to sample their tiramisu.  I was still craving it since I had been denied at the restaurant the night before.  We tried the tiramisu and the cheesecake I believe.  They were both good.

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We were thirsty after all of our walking and eating so we decided to fill up our water bottle.

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We crossed back over the Tiber River and onto Tiber Island.

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Eventually we made our way to a bakery in the Jewish Ghetto.  We were looking for a sort of unmarked bakery.  We spotted this place; inside it was called Kosher Cakes.  It looked semi-unmarked to us.  We bought some crème puffs for later.

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But then I spotted this bakery right next door!  It was definitely unmarked!  We had gone to the wrong one!  That was okay though because it looked like the unmarked one was out of everything and we knew we wouldn’t be back in this area anyway.  The crème puffs turned out to be good!

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Humans are so talented.  Just look at this architecture.

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These are pictures of our walk back to our flat.

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Back in front of the Colosseum!

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This is the Roman Forum!  The first picture is unedited and the second is the one edited by Google.

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Sampling our crème puffs.

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On Friday night we had dinner at Trattoria Pizzeria Vecchia Roma.  The chandeliers and sconces were really cool.  This place filled up quickly after we ordered and the food proved to be pretty good.  Mom and Karla really liked their pizza and I liked Andrew’s gnocchi.  It was funny because Mom thought she was ordering a slice of pizza and then a whole one came out.  We kept telling her it was probably one whole pizza, but she couldn’t believe it because the price was only around 7 or 8 euros.

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After dinner I braved the dark and creepy metro, as Mom put it, to buy metro tickets for the next day.  She insisted on walking with me.

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Saturday was Colosseum day!

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There were so many stairs.

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I loved visiting the Colosseum.  It is something that I have always heard about in books and movies, and to see it up close was amazing.  I never realized all of the specific details about it before.  For example, I did not know that the spectacles they put on in the arena were so theatrical and included things like trap doors and pulleys.  It was really just one big stage.  For one event an enormous whale was built and when the jaws opened out poured 50 bears!  It is crazy that events like that took place back then.  It seems that they were ahead of their time.  It was also very sad to think about all of the lives lost here for entertainment purposes and those possibly fighting for their freedom.

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This is the cat of the Colosseum.  He did not want me to pet him.

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Goodbye, Colosseum.  We will see you another time.

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We are now headed to the Roman Forum.  This is the Arch of Constantine just outside of the Colosseum.

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Watch your step on this road.

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Here’s Mom and Karla in front of the entrance to the Roman Forum and also in front of the Colosseum.

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All of the following pictures were taken throughout the Roman Forum.  Being in Rome has reminded me a lot of Athens and that is probably because of all the ruins everywhere throughout the city.

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I really like these pictures we took of the Colosseum from the Roman Forum.

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Now we are headed to Palatine Hill.  This is the center-most of the Seven Hills of Rome and is one of the most ancient parts of the city.