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Seoul Searching in South Korea

Seoul Palace | Reidmore

I consider myself a world traveler, but up until this month, Asia was still unchecked on my travel bucket list. All that changed when I headed to Seoul, South Korea for a weeklong trip for work and to see the city.

Leading up to my trip, I was nervous to be in the city alone, not able to speak the language. But mostly I was nervous about what in the world I’d be eating! How do you order something off a menu you can’t read?

So to beat my food-nerves, I prearranged a local food tour of the Gwangjang market in Dongdaemun neighborhood of Seoul. I found Janet’s Cooking Studio & Seoul Food Tour on TripAdvisor, the best decision I made on the trip. Janet, a former Northern Virginia resident herself, was beyond helpful, warm, passionate, and thoughtful as she showed me around the market that day.

Seoul Food Tour | reidmore

We went from stall to stall, as she told me about the history of Korean cuisine and food traditions. gwangjang  market food tour | reidmore

She instructed me to ask her any questions, so I asked her everything on my mind so I would be prepared for the week ahead. Do you really just use chopsticks? Why don’t you have bars in Seoul? What do you like to cook on a daily basis for yourself? What do you recommend I eat for dinner by my hotel tonight? Do people really eat dog meat?
mung bean pancakes gwangjang seoul | reidmore

She had me try everything, pushed my comfort level with odd-looking but delicious tasting foods. I loved the pork and regular mung bean pancakes, eaten with bites of pickled onions and kimchi to cut the grease in between.eating in gwangjang market food tour | Reidmore eating tour of seoul market | reidmore

One stand was filled with colorful containers of salty side dishes to be eaten with rice. Janet had me sample a full-shell baby crab, spicy octopus, garlic knots and more – food I would never have known to try on my own.

Next we stopped for dumplings – yum, blood sausage – not so much, fish stew, chewy rice cakes, and a chicken foot. I tried it all!

dumplings on seoul food tour | reidmore trying korean food in seoul | reidmore

Hands down my favorite market stop was for “bungeoppang,” a sweet fish-shaped waffle dessert, filled with red bean paste or cream. Hot off the stove, the sweet treat was almost too cute to eat.

The food tour was both helpful and delicious. Next time I’m in a brand new city with a different food scene, I will definitely be booking a food tour on the first day again.

Later that week, once the meetings had come to an end, I had chance to explore Seoul. My colleague had offered to show me around for the day. Overwhelmed with so much to see in a short span of time, we got hop on-hop off  tour bus tickets.

changing of the Deoksugung palace guard | reidmore

Our first stop was Deoksugung Palace, just in time to see the changing of the guard.Deoksugung seoul | reidmore seoul palace tours | reidmore palace guard seoul south korea | reidmore

Once you enter the main palace gates, you get to explore the large palace grounds. The historic buildings were all brightly colored with intricate designs, so beautiful. Crazy to think of how old Korea and the rest of the world is compared to America.
Deoksugung palace bell seoul | reidmore

After the palace we visited Namsangol Hanok Village, a small village of old hanok homes.Namsangol Hanok Village

You could peak inside to the open air homes and see what life was like during that time. My colleague said her grandparents who live in the rural part of South Korea still sleep on the floor and live in a similar style home. Seoul Namsangol Hanok Village | reidmore

We stopped for bibimbap for lunch, a rice bowl with beef, pickled vegetables, and a fried egg. So delicious. I’d become a chopstick pro by this point.
bibimbap in seoul | reidmore

Our final stop of the day was N Seoul Tower, the spire overlooking the city. I snapped a photo of two young girls dressed in hanbok at N Seoul Tower. Apparently it’s a big trend with teenagers to dress up and do amateur photoshoots through the various historic attractions of Seoul, so we saw a lot of these beautiful dresses all weekend.
N Seoul Tower hanbok dresses  seoul

The tower had a great view of the city below, which I was finally starting to get a feel for. I loved the thousands and thousands of love locks along the gates of the tower, colorful and overwhelming.

love locks namsan tower seoul | reidmore

We ended the day in Insadong, a shopping district home to the Ssamziegil craft mall.

insadong shopping in seoul | reidmore

After dumplings for dinner, I parted way with my new friend, thanking her for giving up her free day to show me around.

Before I left Seoul, I had one final item on my checklist… makeup shopping! Not even the youtube haul videos of Myeongdong could prepare me for the bustling streets filled with makeup and cosmetic stores. Similar to how we see multiple Starbucks across the street from each other in the US, Myeongdong had the same big major Korean beauty chains around every corner.

They lure you into their store with bribes of free samples and $1 face masks, which totally worked on me. Within a few minutes my arms were heavy with shopping bags full of gifts to take home. Facial cream, eye liner, lipsticks, face masks, hair cream, foot masks, and more.

I found delicious food, beautiful sights, and amazing shopping in Seoul. But even better were the people. Everyone I met during my trip, from Janet to my colleague, were so hospitable, thoughtful, and friendly. My first trip to Asia was a definite success and I can’t wait to go back to Seoul again one day soon.

TRAVEL

A Banff National Park Weekend in Alberta, Canada

Moraine Lake Banff | reidmore

A few weeks back I had to visit the Calgary, Canada area for a business trip. After seeing so many beautiful photos of the nearby Banff National Park, I knew I could not fly all the way out to Alberta without extending my visit to see the park as well. It didn’t take much convincing to get Mom & Devan to fly out to join me for girls weekend in scenic and surprisingly snowy Canada.

We spent the first afternoon in downtown Calgary. The city was expecting the first snow storm of the season, so we walked along the Stephen Avenue pedestrian street, looking for gloves, hats, and scarves for the weekend ahead. I had packed for cold weather, but didn’t properly anticipate the freezing cold snow.

Downtown calgary vacation | Reidmore

Bright and early the next day we headed north for Banff National Park. I had seen such wonderful photos of bright-blue lakes and towering mountain peaks. But we quickly realized the incoming snow storm was turning our view of the mountains into low-hanging clouds.

Lake Louise, Banff National Park

Our first stop, Lake Louise, was covered in a gray fog. It was still beautiful, so we spent the morning hiking around the lake.Lake Louise in the fog | reidmore

Snapping photos of  the picturesque boathouse, straight out of a LL Bean catalog.Lake Louise boathouse | reidmorelake louise snowman banff | reidmore

Thankfully the snow clouds started to clear and showed off the beautiful blue lake and snow-covered mountains. Finally, a glimpse at what we came all the way to Alberta for!
Banff National Park selfie | Reidmore Lake Louise family weekend trip | Reidmore Lake Louise Alberta Canada views | reidmore
blue water lake louise banff | reidmore sightseeing lake louise hike | reidmore Lake Louise Mountain Banff Park Snow Lake Louise Banff | reidmore

After hiking Lake Louise, a quick hot chocolate and wifi break at the Fairmont Hotel reenergized us for our next stop.

Moraine Lake, Banff National Park

Moraine Lake is also known as Valley of the Ten Peaks, since you can see all 10 mountain caps from the blue lake below. Due to the intensifying snow storm that day, I’d change the name to Valley of the One Big Gray Mountain. The snow was much thicker at this stop, so we were quite disappointed after being spoiled by the colorful Lake Louise.

Moraine Lake Banff | ReidmoreMoraine lake no view in snow | reidmoreFoggy moraine lake banff park | reidmore lake moraine trip banff | reidmore

To see the best views of Moraine Lake, they recommend you climb the trail to the top of the rock pile. Thanks to the cloud cover and freezing weather, I was considering skipping the hike. But when you fly to national park in Alberta, a place so remote and distant from home, you don’t skip the main event, even in the snow.hiking moraine lake rock pile | reidmore

We hiked on, past the bear warning signs…bear warning banff national park alberta | reidmore

And arrived to the most serene view of Moraine Lake. No, you can’t see any of the 10 mountain peaks in the gray clouds. But the hike was worth it to see the lake water, turned crystal blue when viewed from above. And the snow-covered pine tree mountains placed us right in the north pole.moraine lake view from rock pile hike | reidmore

We had planned to visit Johnston Canyon, but it was closed for the season, and Emerald Lake was too far. Our time seeing the beautiful scenery of Banff National Park was not long enough. I would love to go back and see Lake Louise and Moraine Lake during  a clear day.

Banff Upper Hot Springs

After lunch in the most-charming lodge town of Banff, we headed to our final stop of the trip – Banff Upper Hot Springs.  45 minutes in line and $8 later, we were changing into our swim suits and walking into the freezing weather to get into the pool.
banff natural hot springs | Reidmore

The springs were crowded with large family and friend groups, way more crowded than my time at the Blue Lagoon in Iceland. When you first enter the pool, it feels nice and warm since you’re coming in from the snow. But you quickly adjust body temperatures and the water feels BOILING. Miserably hot. So we relaxed in the springs for an hour or so, and decided to call it a day.
banff hot springs alberta canada | reidmoreThat night we stayed in Kananaskis, ski resort town between Banff National Park and Calgary. The next day we made an early drive back to Calgary to return back to reality after our weekend in the beautiful snowy wonderland.

BEACH EUROPE FEATURED TRAVEL

Mediterranean Family Vacation: Blanes

Blanes Spain Travel | Reidmore Blog
Mediterranean Vacation
Over the next few weeks I’m sharing photos from my two-week travels throughout the Mediterranean with family. Follow along on the blog to see hear more about the beautiful trip.

Blanes, Spain (Costa Brava)

Yikes, how I let time get away from me! It has already been almost 6 months since we took our big family trip through the Mediterranean. Luckily we had just one final stop – the most beautiful beach town of Blanes in Costa Brava. I’ll do a quick share of my favorite photos!

Blanes view of Mediterranean Sea

After a few days in bustling Barcelona, a quiet few days in the town of Blanes was just what the doctor ordered. The small fishing village, just 45 minutes from Barcelona looks over the beautiful Mediterranean Sea, providing the most epic scenic views. Sightseeing the last week was exhausting, so we were all excited to veg out by the pool and put our feet up.

Blanes Spain Airbnb

We stayed at a mid-century modern Airbnb house with an infinity pool overlooking the Mediterranean. It was heaven. The house was the perfect place for us to enjoy a final few relaxing days in Spain.

Blanes Spain vacation

Pink flamingo floaties included and all.Family vacation blanes spain(an optical illusion of a photo, we think)Airbnb with pool Blanes SpainFamily beach trip near Barcelona Spain

We were having such fun in the beautiful infinity pool, the family decided they didn’t even want to leave the house! We came across the Atlantic to go to the beach, and they were having too much fun to make the 3 minute trek to the neighborhood beach.

Blanes Beach Cala Sant Francesc But I begged the family to go walk down to Cala Sant Francesc, the quiet secluded beach 2 minutes from our villa.

Sam barker blanes spain

(Sam growing more European by the day)

We turned the corner and soon realized the walk was worth it. We found the most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen in my life. View of Blanes beach

Beautiful green trees, rocky jagged coastline jutting into the water, clear blue green water inviting you to jump in. cala sant francesc beach

The family agreed.

Gopro swimming in Blanes SpainCala Sant Francesc swimming go pro Blanes Beach gopro photo
Camryn was less enthused with the crystal clear water. Just the thought of fish swimming below her was enough to cause panic.

But the rest of the group loved the beautiful green waters, so the next morning we walked down the mountain to pick up a few snorkels. The charming town was lined with pedestrian shopping streets and had panoramic views of the Mediterranean Sea.

With snorkels and our GoPro ready, we all took turns exploring the ocean floor and snapping underwater photos.

And after floating around in the ocean all day, our grand Mediterranean vacation was finally coming to an end.

Blanes Beach house

We packed up our sand-filled suitcases and headed back towards Barcelona to fly home to DC.

Thank you to my family for this wonderful trip, so glad we all got to spend time together this summer. Repeat summer 2017?!?

EUROPE FEATURED TRAVEL

Mediterranean Family Vacation: Barcelona

Barcelona Spain trip | REidmore
Mediterranean Vacation
Over the next few weeks I’m sharing photos from my two-week travels throughout the Mediterranean with family. Follow along on the blog to see hear more about the beautiful trip.

Barcelona, Spain

After a great week on the Mediterranean Cruise, the family was disembarked back in Barcelona, Spain with plans to spend a few days exploring the city. The first day back in Barcelona the group split up – the guys to check out Nou Stadium, Dad and Grandma to rest, and us girls to see the sights.La Rambla Souvenir Shopping | Reidmore

The guys had a flight to catch that evening, so we met up at Plaza Catalunya so they could see the most popular sites before they left. After a quick tapas break, we started the crowded stroll down La Rambla and wound up in Placa Reial in the charming Gothic Quarter.

Placa Reial Barcelona Spain | reidmore Gothic Quarter Barcelona Spain | Reidmore

It was a hot day, so we stopped at the very cute Artisa icecream shop.

Ice cream in Barcelona Gothic Quarter | Reidmore Barcelona Spain Icecream break | Reidmore

After a long walk down La Rambla and along the marina, we finally ended up at Barcelona’s beach. It was a Sunday so the every inch of the sand was covered with locals sunbathing.

With our legs aching from all of the walking, we finally got settled into the apartment, our home for the next few days. The Airbnb was a large and historic (by American standards I suppose) apartment, featuring a private garden patio – perfect for enjoying a tinto break after a long day.

 

That night my dear friend Raisa flew in from Copenhagen to spend the week in Barcelona with my family. I had not seen her since our Northern Europe trip last fall, so I was so glad she could join us for a few days. She is part of the family now, and everyone was so happy to have her with us.

The next morning the group was ready to see the sights. Our Airbnb was walking distance to the most popular Gaudi houses and la Sagrada Familia, our destination for the day. Map in hand, I led the way.

We first visited Casa Batllo, designed to look like skeletal house of bones.

Gaudi house Barcelona | Reidmore

Next on our Gaudi architecture walk was La Pedrera.
La Pedrera Barcelona | Reidmore

And finally, a few blocks later, La Sagrada Familia. Gaudi’s famous and controversial church is still under construction today.

La Sagrada Familia Barcelona | Reidmore

Due to the intense heat and 5-hour wait, we decided to skip the interior tour for the day and settled for a leisurely lunch.

Lunch in Barcelona near Sagrada Familia | Reidmore

With a free afternoon in front of us, we decided to visit La Bouqueria, the market on La Rambla. It is probably my favorite thing to visit, with so many colors and smells and tastes. Warning – color overload ahead.

Colorful Candy La Bouqueria Barcelona | Reidmore

The market is famous for the rainbow-hued displays inviting you in. There was candy, chocolate, ham, fish, fruit, spices, and more. Fruit Boqueria Market Barcelona Spain | Reidmore

But Boqueria Market is most famous for its fruit smoothie juices. For a few euro you can sample all of the flavors. Fruit juices Boqueria Market | Reidmore

Coconut, strawberry, apple raspberry, mango, kiwi, and more.
Fruit smoothies Boqueria market Barcelona | Reidmore

We started sipping on the smoothies as we wove our way through the crowded stalls.

Boqueria Barcelona Market | Reidmore

The market was a great gift-buying stop. We picked up ham, olive oil, salts and more. And snacks for a tapa-style dinner that night.  Barcelona Spain Boqueria Mercat | reidmore

On the way out we made one final stop for a fruit popsicle.

La Boqueria Popsicles Reidmore

We took a slow walk back to the Airbnb apartment, stopping at the amazing Spanish stores on La Rambla.

The next day we set out with a better plan. We would take a cab up the hillside to Park Guell in the morning, then in the afternoon head to La Sagrada Familia with pre-purchased tickets to see inside.

My previous trip to Barcelona we loved our Park Guell visit. I fondly remember taking the escalator to the top of the park, which was bizarre enough as is, and loving the mosaic benches and crazy Gaudi architecture. What we did not realize is that Park Guell now charges for admission to the most popular park attractions.

Park Guell mosaic signs | Reidmore

So with my Grandma in tow, we decided to do a streamlined walk of the Park that morning.

 

Walking Park Guell | Reidmore Park Guell tour Barcelona Spain | Reidmore Park Guell caves | Reidmore

Park Guell, even just the free parts, was great to revisit. Next time I’d spend more time in the park and pay to see the famous mosaic benches, palm tree tunnels, and the lizard statue. But when you’re in a group, you go with the flow.

A quick cab ride later, we were back at La Sagrada Familia, this time with tickets in hand. The cathedral was beyond impressive, my photos not doing the massive and intricate space justice. Every corner of the cathedral was covered in elaborate geometric yet organic-inspired designs. Tree columns reached to the ceiling.

Sagrada Familia design | reidmore

The space was unbelievable. I was surprised I liked it as much as I did, since Gaudi designed the facade to be over the top gaudy. Covered in fruit, rainbow colors, bizarre text. Way to over done. But the inside was more nature-inspired and geometric, so the crazy designs worked.La Sagrada Familia stained glass | Reidmore

For our final night in Barcelona the family went out for a final tapa meal at La Tramoia.

Tapas Barcelona Spain | Reidmore
Dinner in Barcelona Spain | ReidmoreAfter dinner we did like the Spaniards and strolled La Rambla, an eye open for a gelato shop. The adults returned home while us kids shopped our way back up La Diagonal towards the Airbnb.

It was sad to see our Barcelona trip and our time with Raisa come to an end. But we were all so looking forward to the most relaxing part of the trip, still to come, Blanes.

EUROPE FEATURED TRAVEL

Mediterranean Family Vacation: Marseille to Sanary-Sur-Mer and Le Castelellet

sanary sur mer le castellet | reidmore
Mediterranean Vacation
Over the next few weeks I’m sharing photos from my two week travels throughout the Mediterranean with family. Follow along on the blog to see hear more about the beautiful trip.

The final cruise day was finally upon us, so our day in Marseille was bittersweet. We had heard that Marseille could be a rough town, so the group booked a tour of  two very different local villages, Sanary-Sur-Mer and Le Castellet. After driving through historic Marseille, which looked beautiful, we took a scenic drive along the sea and through the mountains.

Sanary-Sur Mer, France

Our first stop was Sanary-Sur-Mer, a small fishing village 30 minutes east of Marseille. It was a Saturday, so the town was buzzing with locals going about their weekend errands at the farmers market and fish stands. I was instantly in love with the colorful harbor greeting visitors and small-town vibe.

Sanary sur mer trip | Reidmore

After a quick history talk from our tour guide, we were able to disperse through the small village to spend our morning.

Visiting Sanary sur mer france | reidmore

The family started roaming through the colorful streets. With the palm trees, pink buildings, and harbor, Sanary-Sur-Mer reminded me of a much smaller, much quieter Cannes.

shopping in sanary sur mer france | reidmore

We had arrived early in the morning, so the tourist shopping streets were quiet and empty at first, but quickly came to life.

sanary sur mer day trip | reidmore

The tiny village streets were small and quaint, so the group divided up to shop and try to find some wifi. Camryn, Sam and I naturally found a French bakery, where we sampled a gigantic meringue and other sweets. For cultural-experiencing of course.

Similar to Cannes, there was lots of shopping to be done. This part of France was known for herbs and lavender. So we stocked up on lavender satchels and scented soaps for our family and friends back home. sanary sur mer streets | reidmore

After a morning of shopping and exploring the town, the group reassembled a a local cafe for 1 euro espresso and free wifi.

Sanary sur mer coffee | reidmore Sanary sur mer coffee break | reidmore

It was such a quiet and calm town, I think we all could have spent the day there.

Sanary Sur Mer day trip from Marseille | Reidmore

Unfortunately we had to meet up with the tour to catch the bus to our next stop. On the way back out of the town, I bought a painting of the Sanary-Sur-Mer sailboats by a local artist to remind me of this peaceful town.

By the time we boarded the bus, my arms were full of shopping bags, but my stomach was full of espresso so I was eager for stop number 2.

Le Castellet, France

If I thought our first stop that morning, Sanary-Sur-Mer, was a small and charming town, I was more than surprised with our next stop, Le Castellet. The tiny fortified village sits atop a hill and dates back to the year 1030. As you walk into the quiet town, the towering stone walls is the first thing you notice.Le Castellet France | Reidmore

Le Castellet day trip | Reidmore

Followed by the amazing views. Thanks to the hilltop location, Le Castellet had panoramic view of Provence below, wineries, mountains, and the Mediterranean Sea all within eyesight.Family Mediterranean cruise selfie | Reidmore

After taking in the scenic views, the group headed the uphill trek through the quiet town.
Le Castellet village in france | Reidmore

The cobblestone streets lined with bright colored homes and beautiful plants were straight out of a movie set. The streets are steep, but we stopped every few feet to snap another picture or visit a souvenir shop.

day in Le Castellet | Reidmore Doors of le castellet | Reidmore Le Castellet France Trip | Reidmore

At the top of Le Castellet sits the town’s stone church, with winding streets branching down.walking Le Castellet France | Reidmore

Despite the small size of Le Castellet, there was plenty of shopping to be done. During our Iceland/Northern Europe trip last fall, my favorite souvenir were the bronze candlesticks I got at the trendy second-hand shop in Stockholm, so during our Mediterranean travels I knew I wanted to buy a few items for my home again. The Marseille area is well-known for printed textiles, so I stocked up on some colorful printed dish towels and a few more local cooking ingredients.

Shopping in Le Castellet France | Reidmore

On the back end of Le Castellet we stumbled upon a stone archway, leading out to a narrow patio with more scenic views of the Provencal countryside. View from Le Castellet | Reidmore

Le Castellet france cruise trip | reidmore
Day trip to Le Castellet village | Reidmore

After enjoying the breeze and the view, we realized we sadly had to leave. Luckily the walk downhill is always a little quicker.Town of Le Castellet | ReidmoreAlong the walk back I laughed at this building, which looked like a face with a purple goatee. I think I need to submit this photo to the Buildings That Look Like Faces blog.
Smiling building in Le Castellet | Reidmore

The walk out of town was so beautiful, and surprisingly full of lots of greenery and beautiful plants, so I kept snapping away. You just don’t expect giant cactus on a hilltop stone village in Southern France. Village of Le Castellet | ReidmoreLe Castellet vacation | reidmore

After a quick afternoon in Le Castellet, our tour day was already over. The group boarded the bus and headed back to the ship to wave “au revoir” to France and to enjoy one last day on the sundeck.Norwegian Epic mediterranean cruise | ReidmoreIt was sad to be leaving the cruise the next day, along with some of the group members, but we were all looking forward to the Barcelona and beach trip that lied ahead.

 

BEACH EUROPE TRAVEL

Mediterranean Family Vacation: Cannes

Day trip to Cannes France | Reidmore
Mediterranean Vacation
Over the next few weeks I’m sharing photos from my two week travels throughout the Mediterranean with family. Follow along on the blog to see hear more about the beautiful trip.

Ferry to Cannes from Mediterranean Cruiseship | REidmore

Cannes, France

The next morning we woke at sea, with a view of the Cannes harbor out our windows. With a more leisurely day in mind after days of rushing, we finally boarded the tender boats and headed towards Cannes. Everyone was excited to see the glamorous town and hit up the beach for the first time on the cruise.1 Day Trip to Cannes France | Reidmore

The second we stepped off the boat, I was in love. You walk through the harbor to get into town, and it was gigantic boat followed by even nicer gigantic boat. You have always heard about the rich and famous in Cannes, so I was excited to see it for ourselves.
Cruise stop in Cannes France | Reidmore

We made our way through the charming town, just meandering through the streets. The game plan was to shop in the morning, grab lunch, change into our swimsuits, and head towards the beach in the afternoon.Town of Cannes | Reidmore Cannes France cruise trip | Reidmore

(Sam was becoming more European by the day)

Shopping in Cannes France | Reidmore

Soon we arrived at the shopping district, rue’d Antibes, the famous cobblestone shopping pedestrian street. It was full of charming little boutiques and clothing shops.  Antibes runs parallel to the designer store mecca, La Croisette, which was fun to window shop in, but Antibes was more my speed.

This was my first opportunity to souvenir trip (previous Italy days were too packed with sightseeing,) so I may have gotten a little out of hand.

There were the cutest French kitchen stores on every corner, filled with local herbs de provence, lemon olive oil, sardines, mustards, tapenades, and more. I stocked up on salts, spices, oils, and a beautiful wooden spoon. Got macarons to snack on and espadrilles to wear. I was in love with the Cannes shopping.

Shopping Antibes street Cannes France | Reidmore

I think my Mom and I could have spent all day popping into the local shops.

Rue d'Antibes Shopping in Cannes France | Reidmore

But we didn’t want to slow down the family, who were patiently waiting for us at the end of Rue d’Antibes.

Ritz Carlton Hotel in Cannes France | Reidmore

After a walk past the famous Ritz Carlton Cannes hotel (reminding me only briefly of work back in DC,) the group settled on a tiny cafe for lunch, our group taking up the whole space for lunch. A quick swim suit change later, we finally found the public Cannes beach and claimed our spot in the sand.

Beach day in Cannes | Reidmore

How many turkish towels does it take fit a family of 8 sunbathers?

It was brutally hot out, the sand burning our feet. So we only laid out for a few minutes more before heading toward the water.

Gopro selfie Cannes France beach | Reidmore

The Mediterranean sea was quite chilly, even in the summer heat, but with views of Cannes and our cruiseship, we couldn’t help but enjoy ourselves. GoPro in hand of course, we snapped a few glamour shots.

After an afternoon at the beach, Camryn and I split in the group to search for free WiFi. We ended up at Steak N’Shake, the most American restaurant ever, in Cannes of all places. After slurping down a milkshake while uploading our Instagrams and Snapchats, we met up with the group and headed the tender to get back to ship. I was sad to be leaving Cannes, my favorite cruise port of the trip so far. I was in love with the cobblestone street shopping and Mediterranean beach bumming.

After a hot day in Cannes, a few of us decided to hit up the SVEDKA Icebar on the boat that evening. They make you wear the heaviest Eskimo coats to tolerate the freezing temperatures.

Icebar Norwegian Epic cruise | Reidmore

At only 17 degrees, it was beyond chilly. So we enjoyed our drinks, snapped a few photos with the ice sculptures, and hightailed it out of there before our fingers fell off.

Hoping to warm up, Sam & I headed to the upper deck where we ran into Camryn, too young to enjoy Icebar. Around us, everyone was decked out in head to toe white and heading towards the back of the boat. Out of curiosity we followed the group and realized there was a European dance club white-party that night.

Not ones to miss out on a good time, we made a quick wardrobe change and headed to join the crowds for a European club dance party. Lots of people watching, lots of fun.

Perfect end to a perfect day.

EUROPE TRAVEL

Mediterranean Family Vacation: Florence

Florence Italy Day Trip | Reidmore Blog
Mediterranean Vacation
Over the next few weeks I’m sharing photos from my two week travels throughout the Mediterranean with family. Follow along on the blog to see hear more about the beautiful trip.

Florence, Italy

The next morning we woke to Livorno, Italy, a port town outside of Florence. After a bad experience with the tour guide in Rome, the group was eager to go explore Florence at our own pace. A few of us visited the city before, so we were confident we could navigate for the day. Which was a good idea, but poorly executed.

As we exited the cruise mid-morning (excited to sleep in since there was no early tour time,) we leisurely strolled down to the taxi area where we quickly realized we had underestimated our trip into Florence. No 20 minute train. We took a shuttle bus to the Livorno train station, half the group nearly missing the train (sorry for the scare, Mom,) then a 90 minute ride into Florence. With the final train leaving at 3:30, our day in Florence had to be shorter than we had hoped for.The day we had hoped would be calm and slow was quickly turning into a rushed and stressful day. Presenting, how to see the best of Florence in just 3 hours…

Florence Italy Cathedral | Reidmorea

After picking up a map at the train station, we found our way to Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, the most recognizable attraction in Florence. The Gothic cathedral was covered green, white, and pink marble and covered with intricate designs, different than the exterior of St. Peter’s Basilica we saw at the Vatican the day before.

Florence Italy Selfie | Reidmore

The day before we were in gigantic, hot, and smelly Rome, being herded around in a big tour group. So the group just so happy to finally be in sweet Florence, exploring on our own. Though I’d been to Florence twice before, I always get starstruck by the Duomo’s russet orange shingles.
Florence Duomo | reidmore

With no tour guide to lead us, we sped-strolled down random streets, stopping in leather shops along the way. It was an intensely hot day and we were all growing hungry, so we found a local pizzeria with shade and wifi for lunch (priorities.)

The family unanimously agreed: Ristorante La Grotta Guelfa was hands down the best pizza we ever tasted. Devan and I split the salami pizza and caprese salad, which makes my stomach growl just thinking about it.

Ristorante La Grotta Guelfa Pizza Florence Italy | reidmore

Around the corner from lunch was the Mercato Nuovo, also known as the Mercato del Porcellino, the famed open air leather market. Florence is known for leather goods, so the group divided into the maze of the market, looking for purses, leather jackets, and souvenirs for family and friends. I had my eye out for a leather tote bag for work, but due to stubborn vendors refusing to negotiate, left empty handed.

Florence Mercato del porcellino leather | Reidmore

Sadly this guy did not come home with me.

The group spent nearly an hour in the market, browsing the stalls for the best deals, while I kept track of time. By 2PM I wrangled the family, forcing them to move along to the final stops before we had to make it back to the train station.

Mercato nuovo Florence leather | Reidmore

After the market, we wandered to the beautiful Ponte Vecchio bridge. It was a brutally hot day, with the crowds out in full force, so we left after a minute in order to stay on schedule. Ponte Vecchio Florence Italy | Reidmore

The final Florence stop was to see the statue of David replica in Piazza della Signoria, my eye on the clock.
Piazza della Signoria Florence Italy | Reidmore

Soon it was time to head back to the train station, our quick day Florence was coming to a close. With the final train departing in minutes, I sped-walked the group back to the station, rushing to get us tickets and seats on the train back in the knick of time. Not a second wasted in Florence before we headed back to Livorno.

After our rushed day under the tuscan sun, the exhausted group reconvened at the ship’s waterslides to cool down. The Norwegian Epic had 3 slides, so we all took turns testing each one.

And if you don’t GoPro your waterslide ride over the Mediterranean sea, did it even happen?

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