Photos from Italy

God, I know other people’s vacation photos are BO-RING. But I thought I’d share, hey, why not? It’s the Internet right?

The first time I went to Europe I was seven years old, it was amazing, I still remember so many things about that trip: how exciting it was to get a plate of spaghetti AND a huge steak for dinner every night in Rome, the cool huge taxicabs in London, the Korean food in Amsterdam (when my dad was a banker we would go on vacation for two months and by that time my family was DYING for Asian food of any kind. We ate at the Korean restaurant every night for a week in the Netherlands). My mom had custom-made trenchcoats made for me and my sister because we did not have anything remotely like cold weather in Manila, and I remember thinking they were so freaking cool. Trenchcoats! Anyway, in the past, Mike and I have done the cheapo Euro vacation in college and after with the cheap train tickets and the youth hostels, that was a lot of the inspiration for Masquerade (Venice) and Misguided Angel (Florence). But it was something else to go as a mom, older, and stay at hotels where the bathrooms were actually in the room and not down the hall. Europe is awesome on the cheap but boy is it even more amazing when it’s as my friend Karen says, when asked, in an interview for a styeTV show, if she was doing “the look for less?”, “No! This is the look for AS MUCH AS YOU CAN POSSIBLY SPEND!” So it was the Luxe for No Stress.

Also it was amazing how much nicer Europeans were to children, our kid was spoiled with gummy bears and treats and smiles from the flight attendants, the customs officials (we arrived in Frankfurt and in the “Passport Control” line, the grim-looking officer broke into a smile when he saw our 3-year-old and immediately offered a pack of gummy bears. We were floored. (Needless to say when we got back to the US side, Homeland Security does not proffer candy.) I don’t think anyone realizes until they have children how UN-child-friendly our country has become. Just ask anyone who travels, it’s a NIGHTMARE to fly with kids. I think Jen Weiner even had a contest for everyone’s worst travel story with child, because a lady on a flight actually reduced her to tears because her two year old was crying. Yep. Been there.

They don’t even let families board early anymore. Not so on the international airlines. Also, luggage carts are free everywhere else in the world but the US. And when you arrive in Venice, they actually have porters with carts who come up to you and ask if you need help FOR FREE. And the fact that they’re cute? Wearing cute uniforms? I mean. Where were we? Oh yeah. Europe. We started calling it Children of Men. They adore kids there! Maybe because we did not see very many, so they were so precious. It was a shock really how wonderful it was to travel with a kid. We would go to nice restaurants, at the earliest seating to not trouble other diners, holding our breath and getting ready for you know, the hate, because WHY didn’t we get a sitter, etc, but it is nice to eat as a family at least once in a while on vacation, and we would be so surprised as the waiters would entertain the kid, giving her pizza dough to play with, or whatever she wanted, they made her feel so special, and us so welcome. Again, I just can’t imagine it happening here, mostly because it never has. Either we eat at a “family-friendly” restaurant or we eat at home, or we get a sitter.

On to the photos! In Venice, every morning we would have breakfast on this terrace with this view.

I mean, crazy right? So gorgeous! And the breakfast food was even better. Charcuterie and cheese and cappuccinos. And because EVERYONE in Venice is an American tourist (which was also kind of fun, bonding with the Americans abroad, we were all getting lost all the time), they had baked beans and hash browns at the buffet. I have to say, I was a bit amused and skeptical, but they were the BEST hash browns I have ever had.

The kid loved seeing the laundry drying outside the window in the canals. We did too. Even laundry was charming!

Then it was on to Florence, where I almost fell off the Duomo. When you go on the tour to go up to the cupola (the dome) and the terraces, they make you walk out of this TINY walkway with this low railing, below your waist, and the tour guide tells you to “hold on to the wall” so you flatten yourself against the wall, pretending to be Angelina Jolie. If I had known, I don’t think I would have done the tour, they also take you to the terraces inside the church, where you’re just hanging on this tiny platform that’s only two feet wide, four or five stories hanging above the air, with just, again, this TINY plastic railing keeping you from falling. Yeah. Vertigo! But also kind of kick-ass since we um, survived it. Still, this tour made us realize we would SO LOSE on the Amazing Race if we were ever chosen to be on it. Not that we have ever applied (cough cough). But yeah, we couldn’t even find the taxi line in Florence, so I think we would totally be getting the “I’m sorry to inform you, you are the last team to arrive” from Phil.

Here is a photo of me safely on the ground, in front of the Cathedral, before the tour.

I kept chuckling to myself in Florence. Especially when we got to the Baptistery doors.

Because um, didn’t they KNOW Allegra helped to make these?? You’ll find out how in Misguided Angel. 🙂

No trip is complete without a visit to the Farmaceutica Santa Maria Novella, where they made perfumes for Catherine de Medici.

My new Helmut Lang shearling. But I didn’t do too much shopping, it was just fun to soak up the atmosphere and eat! Who had time to shop?

More photos soon!