Things We Did and Ate in Rome (in Pictures)

This post is delayed but this week has been busy, so it is what it is. Plus, I’m sure there is not a single soul on this earth who has been waiting at the edge of their seat, so it’s all good! We started our trip off with several days in Rome. It was nice, but that’s all. I will say – Rome has some delicious cheeseboards though. I think the more we travel, the more we’re learning that cities aren’t really our jam. We live in a city. A nice, big, crowded one. When we get away, we crave the outdoors. I digress. Keep scrolling for some photos (and words) about Rome, in no particular order!

Our First Roman Meal

When we first got to Rome, we headed straight for our AirBnB to drop our luggage off then headed out for our first *true* Italian dinner. We didn’t head far – the restaurant La Forchetta d’Oro was right across the street from us! The prices were reasonable and the food was pretty good!

Bruchetta
Seaweed salad
Beef carpacio
Cuttleink pasta
Tiramisu

That pretty much ended our first night. We wanted to take a walk to see the Colosseum at night, but the rain wasn’t cooperating!

The Macro Museum

While Rome is know for their classical art, we ventured out to the Macro Museum. I’m a huge fan of modern art. I think it’s just so much more fun than painting of sad old people and bowls of fruit. Call me uncultured, that’s fine. Unfortunately, this museum was a bit lackluster. There weren’t all that many exhibits. On the bright side, it was free.

Ten bonus points for having a super modern bathroom

The rest of that day was rained out. We had bought tickets for a hop on/hop off bus, but the rain stopped us from hopping off. Eventually, we got dinner, and called it a day.

Checking Out the Colosseum

It wouldn’t be a trip to Rome without a visit to the Colosseum. I strongly advise getting tickets in advance. We went pretty early in the morning (8:30) and there was already a line of probably a few hundred people trying to purchase tickets.

Is it terrible that I wasn’t super impressed? Okay, the fact that they built a thing like this back then is cool, but IDK. It was just a building.

Roaming Through Trastevere

We also explored this neighborhood called Trastevere. It was filled with boutique shops, coffee, and all the cheeseboards you could want. In our three hour visit, we consumed three cheeseboards.

They have a cool hill in this neighborhood you can walk to and get a view of Rome from above!
This place was excellent! Check out Donkey Punch if you’re looking for a delicious meal!
La Prosciutteria

A Roman Cooking Class

We also participated in our first ever Air BnB experience: PASTA MAKING! We took this class and learned how to make several types of pasta. Making pasta was much easier than I had assumed it would be!

The finished product!

Overall, Rome was nice, but that’s all I can say. It didn’t blow my mind or anything like that. We ate some good charcuterie and saw some old buildings. Perhaps if we were history buffs it would’ve been more of a dream come true, but in all honesty, it was just a tad bit overrated.

Where You Should Eat in Fiumicino, Italy

Spring break this year was spent in Italy. We visited Rome and Naples, the glorious cities of treasures as all the travel blogs say, but in all honesty, the most spectacular place we visited was a ten minute cab ride from the airport. Continue reading to see (pun intended – there will be lots of photos) why you should eat in Fiumicino, Italy!
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Fiumicino is not Rome. It’s a town that people live in. The menus are not all in English and there aren’t tourists everywhere. Fiumicino is a fishing village, which you will see as you walk through. There are fish stands, seafood restaurants and boats galore. After spending a week in crowded Rome and Naples, it was a relief to be able to walk down the street without a waiter standing outside promising “authentic” pizza and pasta. Because it’s a town that isn’t necessarily catered to the tourists, the prices are much more reasonable as well!

We came into the town simply searching for a meal. We were staying near the airport, and wanted one last meal in Italy. We were not expecting to be blown away by this little town, but alas, we were.

Our first stop was Indispensa Bistrot. Indispensa is an adorable restaurant with a beautiful menu.

My husband got the steak coated in zucchini and I had the salmon. Both were phenomenal!

Keep in mind that Fiumicino is a fishing town, so the seafood is fresh and tasty! This was hands down one of the best meals we had in Italy. Their drinks were excellent too. I had a negroni, which got my drunk way too fast, and the husband had red wine, which I recall him liking!

After our meal, we went down the street to Le Moko Cafe, where we had coffee, beer and a charcoal croissant! The owners were friendly, the prices were reasonable and the coffee was strong.

Next door to the cafe is a vintage shop, Vintage 77, that you need to visit. Prices were reasonable and the selection was beautifully curated. My husband walked away with an Italian silk button down for 15 euro!

We then continued to walk through the town. Lining the streets are small boutiques and shops, selling clothing and home goods. We wandered into some fish markets and oohed and aahed at the prices of wild caught salmon.

After an hour or two, our stomachs wanted more food and we stopped in at Tarumbo. There, we got the meat and fish samplers, which were an excellent deal! They included a board of food, as well as a drink! For 25 euros total, we ate fresh seafood and drank beautiful mojitos.


After this, we wandered a bit more – partially to see more of the town and partially to work up more hunger! Eventually, we wound up at our last stop of the night, Uniti nel Gusto! If you visit, you must order the seafood sampler. For 25 euros, you can sample six of their delicious seafood dishes! I promise that A) you will not be disappointed and B) you will be quite full!

Okay – I lied. I said that was our last stop but it wasn’t. We couldn’t end our trip to Italy without one last cannoli. I don’t recall the name of the pastry shop, but it was delicious. They had an assortment of mini and regular pastries, all under 2 euro! We got three mini pastries: a cannoli, a fruit tart, and a chocolate puff, and all of them were delicious!

As you can see, Fiumicino is a delicious little town. If you are visiting Rome, take the ten minute cab ride over and be prepared for some delicious seafood and authentic feels!

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Sparking Joy

International Happiness Day: Where Do We Stand?!

The World Happiness Report came out today, on International Happiness Day, and the United States is the 19th happiest country. Last year, we were the 18th happiest country, and the year before that, we were the 14th happiest. So… what’s happening? Why are we, a developed country, failing at happiness? What even is happiness?! How can I be happier?

Happiness is the feeling of contentment and pleasure. Okay, so it makes some sense why we’re not happy. We live in a country where we’re constantly replacing things with new editions, and never content. We also are obsessed with social media – I’m always seeing friends, acquaintances and strangers living their “best life” and comparing it to my own. But what about the other countries that are on the list? They have access to the same new tech that we do, and I’m sure they’re just as Insta obsessed.

American culture doesn’t believe in “happiness” in the way that other parts of the world do. We don’t value work life balance. In fact, I often hear people bragging about how much they’ve put into work: “YO BRO – I put in 50 hours of overtime last week and I got FREE dinner every night.” I’ve heard similar things while eavesdropping over the years.

Fortunately, I work in a place that gives me great work life balance. I work from eight to three, and am usually home by four in the afternoon. I don’t even have work e-mail on my phone, and the atmosphere at work is relaxed and not stress inducing. So I don’t need to do much in that area to be a happier person. ON TO THE NEXT SUBJECT.

Countries all over the world have times of rest. Italy, Spain and the Philippines have siestas where the shops and businesses close down so people can have a break in the afternoon. The U.K. gives workers a mandatory 28 days of paid vacation annually. The average American? We get 10 paid days off per year, and even with that, most Americans don’t use them all! As a teacher, who works 208 days of the year, I could not fathom a life where I have to work 50 weeks a year. No wonder we’re not happy!

There’s also the fact that most of the happiest countries in the world are countries that are pretty mono-cultured. The four happiest are Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Switzerland – countries that have a pretty high percentage of citizens from the same culture. This probably gives them a sense of belonging that can be difficult to find the in the melting pot that is the United States. Along that note, we also have a government who is trying to make things work for people across cultures, backgrounds, education levels and economic ranges. It appears impossible to please everyone.

So what can we do?

Let’s zoom in. Focus on our own day to day happiness. It’s going to be hard to make changes that make everyone in this country happy, but it’s a whole lot easier to make changes to your day to day life.

Maybe we can start by saying no more often. I’ve started to do this, and I see my own happiness growing. Unless it’s something I want to do, or that I see as a advantageous, I typically say no. I used to say yes to everything, and would inevitably find myself crying about how overwhelmed and unhappy I was. Give it a try, guys!

Efficiency can help too. Take a look at how you’re using your time. Is the two hours a night you sit on your couch something that truly brings you joy? If it is – go for it girlfriend! If not – use that time better! Pick up a new hobby. Spend time making your home cozy. Read a damn book. DO SOMETHING THAT PLEASES YOU!

I don’t have the answers, but I’m on the constant search for them. I want to hear from you! What do you do to be happy? On a scale of 1-10, how happy would you say you typically are? How do you get yourself out of an unhappy rut?

Texas Highlights Pt 1: Houston

This winter break, my husband and I did a road trip though Texas. We hit up Houston, San Antonio and Austin. Austin, was hands down my favorite, and while I really want to write up a recap of Houston, my desire to be chronologically correct has won and I will be reviewing first.

The actual travel from Chicago to Houston were uneventful, which is all you can hope for. Sometimes no news is good news. The first thing we did was go get our rental car. Which ended up being this bad boy….

The RAM 1500 – which stands for 15 MPG according to the husband

This thing terrified me. It was large and in charge and I did not drive it once throughout the trip. The husband however, got a matching cowboy hat and a camo sunglass strap to match this beauty of a vehicle.

We were in Houston for a few days at the beginning and a day at the end of our trip. I’m not going to run ya’ll through every detail because who the hell cares?! I’ll just run you through the things we saw and give my opinion of it. OKIE DOKIE?!

Houston Stop #1: Smither Park.

You. Guys. YOU GUYS. Go to Smither Park. I think that overall, my take away from our trip to Texas was the value of creativity. Smither Park was established in 2016 with work done by over 300 artists from around the country. When you drive up to the park, you’re a little underwhelmed. The park is the size of an oversized city lot, and is in the middle of a neighborhood, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Do not let this sway you to not go in though. You walk in and you’re overwhelmed by stimuli.

I don’t even have the words to describe what Smither Park was other than inspiring. It made me want to create something – anything. Everything was so well thought out, and the attention to detail was out of this world.

Houston Stop #2: Beer Can House

So I can’t say we went in the Beer Can House, but we did see the perimeter, and it was pretty dang cool. The Beer Can House is a man’s pet project, which apparently took quite a few years to complete. He somehow found a way to completely cover his home in an assortment of beer cans and it was pretty cool. They have tours available, but because we went to see it on Christmas, we obviously weren’t able to get on one. It’s definitely a unique place that’s worth a visit if you find yourself with some free time.

 

Houston Stop #3: Space Center Houston

The Space Center Houston was something that we obviously HAD to see. We saw it on our last day of the trip, and arrived with about 2 hours to walk through it. It was cool, but appeared a bit outdated. The place smelled of the 90s, if we’re being honest. It was awesome to see an actual shuttle though! An interesting thing I learned was that the Apollo program was not the first space program. There was the Gemini, which ran from 1961 to 1966, which carried fleets of 2 astronauts into space.

Houston Stop #4: Battleship Texas

I grew up on the island of Oahu so I had been to Pearl Harbor numerous times, and have toured the battleship there. My husband, however has not been on one, so I thought this would be a fun way to learn some history. The battleship site is about a half hour drive from Houston proper, but totally worth it. Admission is $12, which goes to restoring the ship. The ship was a ship that served in both WWI and WWII. It was so fun to wander through the ship and see how they lived. The ship, interestingly enough suffered no wartime casualty, despite how active it had been. The ship had volunteers scattered around the ship who were more than willing to answer any questions one may have had. I would absolutely recommend a stop at the Battleship Texas!

And that’s a wrap on the highlight of Houston. While Houston was not our favorite city, it was definitely informative and interesting. I think that highlight for me was Smither Park, as it really made me think about how things can be used, and then reused. I’ll BRB with an update about San Antonio and Austin.