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?


Mediterranean Family Vacation: Rome

Traveling to Rome, Italy | 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.

Rome, Italy

After a beautiful day exploring the Amalfi Coast, the group had high hopes for our excursion in Rome. The cruise docked in Civitavecchia, a port town an hour outside the city.

Anyone will tell you Rome is like the New York City of Italy – busy, crowded, and bustling with so many freaking tourists. There is so much to see and do, it’s a little overwhelming to accomplish in just a day. So we arranged for a guided tour of the Rome highlights – Trevi Fountain, Colosseum, Roman Forum, and the Vatican. And that might have been our first mistake – thinking we could get to everything in one day.

Rome Italy tour group | reidmoreWe finally exited the bus in Rome and follow the guide through the beautiful Roman streets.

Tourist shop in Rome | reidmoreUnfortunately unlike the day before, our tour guide was not as personable or helpful. She sped-walked us throughout the streets at crazy speeds unrealistic for the large group. Mumbling bizarre explanations of the surrounding streets into our earpieces and forced us into her partner souvenir shops. The family realized within minutes the day would be more enjoyable without her bumbling voice in our ear and yanked the headset out. Peace at last.

Trevi Fountain cruise excursion | reidmore

We arrived at our first stop, the Trevi Fountain. A cleaning crew roped off the fountain to collect the millions of coins, dodging coin tosses and photobombing family pictures while they worked.

Trevi Fountain Rome | Reidmore

Italian folklore says the number of coins you toss into the fountain seals your fate – 1 coin to return to Rome, 2 coins to find an Italian love, and 3 coins to get a divorce. The family quickly turned our backs and tossed an undisclosed amount of coins into the fountain. Tour of Trevi Fountain in Rome | Reidmore


After tossing our coins in the Fountain, the tour group zig-zagged through the streets, crowded with tourists and morning commuters. As a resident of Washington, DC who deals with masses of crazy tourists, I felt bad for the Romans.

Eventually we made our way to the Roman Forum. I loved the ancient intricate bronze doors, now a green patina from the years. It is crazy to imagine this now-empty space was once the city center of ancient Rome.

At this point in the day, the sun was out and it was warming up. Speed walking through Rome in extreme heat, as grand and historic as it is, can be exhausting, so we were all counting down the minutes until lunch. But the incredible Colosseum was next, so we trekked on, hangry and all.

Rome Colosseum tour | reidmore

And once you get inside the Colosseum, the space is so huge and historic, you almost forget that your feet hurt and you miss air conditioning. It’s that cool.

Colosseum cruise excursion | reidmore

View from Colosseum in Rome | reidmore

After a lunch break (pasta and red wine of course,) our refueled group walked to Vatican City, where we were greeted with massive lines.

Vatican Lines | reidmore

We patiently waited under the columns to get inside St. Peter’s Basilica.St Peters Vatican in Rome | Reidmore

Snapping selfies and laughing about the horrific guide and rushed tour to pass the time.

St Peters Basilica | reidmore

Finally we made it into the beautiful St. Peter’s Basilica, every corner covered in ornate gold and marble. It was a calm and peaceful closing to a hectic day.

Beyond exhausted, the group was grateful for the bus ride back to port, just long enough for a nap. When in Rome, avoid the summer months, plan a longer trip, and pack comfortable shoes.


Mediterranean Family Vacation: Naples to Amalfi Coast and Pompeii

Amalfi Coast Pompei | 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.

A few weeks ago I packed a giant suitcase and flew east to meet up with my extended family for 2 weeks exploring the Mediterranean and Barcelona. The family met in Barcelona, embarked on a weeklong Western Mediterranean cruise, then spent a week back exploring Barcelona and the nearby beach town of Blanes. I’m still catching my breath after a fun but exhausting trip, but mostly overwhelmed with the 1000s of photos I took. It was as beautiful as it sounds, and then some. I’ll be posting a ton of trip photos of each of our destinations, so stay tuned.

Barcelona, Spain

Our first night in Barcelona was a short one, since we all arrived throughout the day. We were exhausted from the long flights but I suggested we visit the Magic Fountain (Font Màgica) near Plaza de Espana on the first night. Back in 2009 I visited the Magic Fountain when I was in Barcelona during my study abroad semester.

Mediterranean Family Vacation | Reidmore

In my memory, the Magic Fountain was cheesy and funny. And my memory was correct. It had only gotten more cheesy since my last visit. Instead of synchronizing the water show to current pop songs, they now play a Freddy Mercury song where the only lyric is “Barcelona,” repeated again and again.

Magic Fountain show Barcelona | Reidmore

Way cheesy, but it definitely put us in the Barcelona spirit for the trip ahead.


Norwegian Epic Western Mediterranean Cruise

The next day we left the Airbnb and headed to Barcelona’s port to board the Norwegian Epic. We spent the next 2 days at sea relaxing, mostly sunbathing and guessing which island we were passing at the moment (answer – Sardinia, Corsica). The ship was huge but very nice and new. It was a relaxing start to a busy two weeks ahead.


Naples – Amalfi Coast and Pompeii

Our first port was in Naples where we had planned an excursion to drive the Amalfi Coast and visit nearby Pompeii. Hands down, the Amalfi Coast drive was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen, and pictures don’t do it justice. Our guide for the day was Fabio, an animated local who made the day for our group.  His long winded explanations of tomatoes or “crazy women drivers” ranting was the entertaining soundtrack to our day.

fabio Amalfi Coast Pompeii tourguide | reidmore

Mount Vesuvius from Naples Cruise Port | Reidmore

As we left Naples and started winding up the mountain roads, you get quick glimpses of Mount Vesuvius through the trees.

Amalfi Coast cruise excursion from Naples | reidmore

The roads were extremely narrow and windy, perched high on cliffs directly above the sea waters. Along the drive we stopped many times to let drivers pass, missing our windows by a few millimeters.  The Amalfi Coast drive entertainment was partially the view, partially the anxiety and nausea causing driving.



The view changed drastically every few miles. My camera was busy snapping photos every 5 seconds.Amalfi Coast driving views | Reidmore

After the long drive along the Amalfi Coast, we finally took a break in the tiny town of Amalfi. The town was incredibly charming with a cathedral built into the mountains, cobblestone streets, and lots of shops.

Town of Amalfi Italy | Reidmore

We spent a few hours walking up and down the town’s windy road, stopping to load up our bags with the famous Amalfi limoncello.

In Amalfi the group got the first taste of real Italian gelato. I got the limoncello gelato, which was delicious. Gelato + shopping + small Italian town… I was in heaven.

But sadly it was time to go, onto our next stop. We stopped for lunch at an Italian restaurant (are all restaurants in Italy Italian? is this redundant?) overlooking the sea.

As a big Gray Malin fan, I excitedly snapped these overhead beach photos on the drive to lunch. The colorful rows of striped umbrellas and beach towels were too perfect for words. The busy beach full of sunbathers turned into art from beautiful art when snapped from above.

Beach scene on Amalfi Coast | Reidmore

Amalfi Coast overhead beach photos | Reidmore

I was sad to see the scenic Amalfi Coast go as we drove inland towards Pompeii.

Italian beach photos | reidmore


Arriving at Pompeii, I was surprised. The ancient grounds were larger and more built and developed than I expected. I’m no history buff, so I was expecting it to look like a gray ash-covered lava field. But it looked just like the original town.

Pompeii cruise excursion | reidmore


After a long day of walking around in the Italian sun, the family was quite selfie-happy by this point. My favorites are of Sam with a random lady and the ones with Fabio photobombing.



Visiting Pompeii | reidmore

Camryn, my youngest sister, studies Latin in highschool and was beyond excited to tour the ancient grounds. It was sweet to see her so happy.

Pompeii family tour | reidmore

After the Pompeii tour finished, the group headed home. I was exhausted from all the walking and sun, so the ship was a nice place to put your feet up and enjoy the sunset.


… until we hit Rome, but that’s a blog post for another day.


Back to Seven Oaks Lavender Farm Outside DC

seven oaks lavender farm outside dc | reidmore blog

A few years ago I enjoyed a day trip out to Seven Oaks Lavender Farm with Sam and his Mom. I posted a few photos on the blog (does it really happen if you don’t blog it?) which caught the eye of Devan, my new-to-DC sister.
Seven Oaks Lavender Farm | Washington DC

When I asked Devan what she’d like to see or do in town, the lavender farm was her first response. So I picked up the LivingSocial coupon ($16 total for 3 adults to pick 50 stems) and planned a day trip for us during prime lavender season in June. Lavender farm  near dc | reidmore where to pick lavender outside Washington, DC | reidmore where to pick lavender outside Washington, DC | reidmore

Since I last visited the lavender farm, the place has grown significantly. What used to look more like a lavender garden, is now a full-fledged lavender farm with rows and rows of french and english lavender plants. We spent an hour walking the aisles and assembling our bundles.

Picking lavender catlett virginia  | reidmoreLavender Farm outside DC | Reidmore

Though the time at the farm was quick, it was nice to take a break from city life. And we all enjoyed the drive home through the countryside, the car smelling of sweet lavender.



I Believe in Nashville Girls Weekends

Country Music Hall of Fame wall of records | Reidmore

Each Memorial Day weekend I get together with my 2 college girlfriends for a long weekend of reliving our college years. Our annual get together is the one chance to see each other all year, since we’re spread out across the southeast. This Memorial Day I flew down to Nashville, home to our host, Kara. Ellen and I were Nashville-newbies, so we soaked up all of the country music, honky-tonk, barbecue, etc like the eager tourists we were.

Our first day in town, Kara took us to the pedestrian bridge downtown where we could see the skyline and get a lay of the land.

downtown Nashville pedestrian bridge | reidmore
Skyline of Nashville TN | Reidmore

We next headed towards Broadway, the street famous for neon lights, honky-tonks, and plenty of bars. We stopped at Acme Feed & Seed’s rooftop bar overlooking the river for a drink then headed up Broadway to check out high-end boot shops and old school souvenir shops.

Broadway St Nashville TN |Reidmore

After walking up Broadway, Kara had the genius idea to take us to the Hatch Show Print shop. Ellen and I were like kids in a candy store. I got 3 prints and was able to check souvenir shopping off my to-do list early on in the trip. I could have spent hours and hundreds of dollars, but our stomachs were growling so we hit the road.
Hatch Show Print shop | reidmore

Next stop was the trendy 12South neighborhood for lunch at Edley’s Bar-B-Que, which was unbelievable.
Nashville barbecue | Reidmore

While in 12South we visited the super southern preppy (and expensive!) Draper James shop, started by Reese Witherspoon. But even better than shopping was the mural hunting. Painted inside the alley next door to Draper James was the famous “I BELIVE IN NASHVILLE” mural, a prime photo opp.Nashville murals | Reidmore Nashville murals | Reidmore Blogger

After an exhausting day of sightseeing we headed to the local roller rink for a birthday party for Kara’s friend. I have never roller skated in my life so I slowly and cautiously circled the rink while kids much younger whizzed past. Can you say ego-check?Nashville TN girls weekend | Reidmore blog

Saturday we woke up early and headed quickly over to Centennial Park to snag a spot for Musicians Corner.

Centenial Park Parthenon | RedmoreFor some reason still unknown to me, Centennial Park is also home to the Parthenon, a full-sized replica of the original statue in Athens. It reminded me of the Lincoln Memorial back home in DC with the columns. It was grand and beautiful, but left me scratching my head a little.
Nashville Parthenon | Reidmore Musicians Corner, a concert series in a park full of food trucks and local businesses, was a great way to experience an event that Nashville locals enjoy.

Musicians Corner Nashville | Reidmore

Next we headed back downtown to the Country Music Hall of Fame museum, a highlight of the trip for this country music lover.

And I totally geeked out over the country memorabilia. They had Blake Shelton’s shirt from his 1994 move to Nashville, Elvis’ golden cadillac, and Dolly’s voluptuous pink dress.

Nashville Dolly Parton in Country Music Hall of Fame | Reidmore

I was in awe of the countless silver, gold, and platinum albums lining the walls.

View of Nashville from Country Music Hall of Fame Museum | Reidmore

To continue with the country music excitement of the day, we headed out-of-town to the Grand Ole Opry House, the historic music venue attached to the Gaylord Opryland Resort. I thought it was just Vince Gill performing that night, so I was surprised by the variety-show style. 3 acts performed during each half hour set, so every 2 songs the music changed.Grand Ole Opry in Nashville | Reidmore

It was neat to be part of the historic Opry and see the show for myself. After the concert we headed next door to explore the giant Gaylord Opryland resort, an attraction in itself.Concert at Grand Ole Opry | Reidmore

On Sunday we ventured outside Nashville to Cummins Falls State Park. The hike to the waterfalls was crowded with families and friends getting together for Memorial Day weekend. I usually like my state park hikes more quiet and serene and less like the busy line at the DMV. But it was beautiful nonetheless. I wish we had packed our swimsuits so we could have jumped into the waters to cool down.

Cummins Falls hike to waterfall | Reidmore

After our morning hike we had worked up an appetite and went to Hattie B’s Hot Chicken. Famous for spicy chicken and long lines, the restaurant didn’t disappoint. Kara had warned us of the intense heat levels, so I was a wuss and went with the heat free southern style tenders, which were so good. Delicious.

That night we went out on the town, first stopping in midtown where we had our first country music celeb sighting (John Pardi,)  and tried to play it cool in true local-Nashvillian form.

Nashville Midtown Bars with Bushwacker | ReidmoreI was eager to visit the famous honky-tonks on Broadway, expecting them to be like the honky-tonks I’d visit when I lived in Dallas/Fort Worth. Continue Reading


Sister Weekend Trip in Louisiana

French Quarter Day Trip | Reidmore Blog

My sister and I are huge HAIM fans. So when we realized they were playing in Baton Rouge but not here in DC, we took advantage of Devan’s flight benefits and traveled south for a girls weekend in Cajun country. A quick TripAdvisor search later we realized there is absolutely nothing to do in Baton Rouge, so we excitedly and spontaneously added a day in New Orleans, which was awesome news to this NOLA-newbie.

New Orleans, Louisiana

We had the HAIM concert in Baton Rouge Saturday night, so unfortunately our New Orleans time was so short, we only had time to see the highlights. But I loved the city and would definitely go back (in a much cooler month!)

Cafe Du Monde Reidmore Blog

Our arrival in New Orleans was strategically planned so we would get to the city at optimal beignet-eating time. We got in line at Cafe Du Monde and 20 minutes later, we were ordering our first beignet and cafe au lait. The beignets were delicious but unbelievably messy. It was almost like a hybrid of funnel cake and donut, heaping with mounds of powdered white sugar.

Cafe du Monde New Orleans visit | Reidmore
Cafe du Monde New Orleans visit | Reidmore

After a sugary and caffeinated breakfast, we hit the pavement. Our first stop was Jackson Square and the beautiful white Saint Louis Cathedral.
jackson square new orleans | Reidmore Blog

For the rest of the day we wove in between the streets of the French Quarter. It was 11AM, so the streets were all empty and quiet, the opposite of the rowdy crowds I expected.

French Quarter New Orleans | Reidmore Blog

I loved all of the old buildings with such unique architecture.Bourbon Street New Orleans Visit | Reidmore French Quarter Day Trip | Reidmore Blog French Quarter Day Trip | Reidmore Blog

We walked our way to the famous Bourbon Street for a drink, shopping, people watching, etc.
French Quarter New Orleans | Reidmore

In one of the many souvenir shops I ducked inside and picked up mardi gras beads for the Redskins & Gamecocks. My favorite store was Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo. I picked up a voodoo doll for my younger sister, amethyst stone for Mom, and incense for myself. I could have spent all day in the shop, looking at all the unusual items.

Bourbon Street New Orleans Mardi Gras Beads | Reidmore Visiting New Orleans | REidmore Bourbon Street Nola | reidmore

After we finished Bourbon Street we found a local restaurant for poboy and mufaletta sandwiches. And all of a sudden our New Orleans day was done. We hopped in the car and drove back to Baton Rouge for the concert down at LSU that night.

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

The HAIM show was amazing. Maybe it’s because the 3 sister family resonates with me, or because you have got to love a girl band that can rock out like that. It was great to be in such a small venue for an intimate show.

Haim Concert Baton Rouge, LA | Reidmore
Haim Concert Baton Rouge, LA | Reidmore

I am now more obsessed with HAIM than I was before and pray they come to DC to visit soon.

Beignets at Coffee Call Baton Rouge, LA | Reidmore

On Sunday we decided to see what Baton Rouge has to offer. The first stop was Coffee Call, a local beignet and coffee cafe I had read about. The beignets were fresh and pillowy, covered in sugar like we’d had at Cafe Du Monde. It’s a good thing I don’t live in Louisiana or I’d be stuffing my face with beignets too often. I was amazed how the locals were able to eat the beignets without a single drop of powdered sugar reaching the table or their shirt. You can tell they start training them young. Baton Rouge Vacation Beignets and Coffee | Reidmore

Following beignets we drove over to the LSU campus to see the sights. As a USC-alum, I wanted to hate it but couldn’t. The campus, despite being 100 degrees out, was surprisingly lovely. The mossy trees arched over the roads, palm trees dotted campus, and the French and Spanish architecture was beautiful.
Visiting LSU Tiger Stadium | Reidmore Swampy trees LSU campus in Baton Rouge | Reidmore LSU Campus Belltower | Reidmore

Once we finished at LSU we headed to downtown Baton Rouge to see the sights, based off the little we found on Trip Advisor. The downtown area was tiny and empty on this Sunday. But we had a nice time visiting the current state Capitol and the historic Old Capitol.

Our final Baton Rouge stop was the mighty Mississippi River, home to the USS Kidd naval ship.
Mississippi River view in Baton Rouge, LA | Reidmore
Travel to Baton Rouge, LA | Reidmore

While Baton Rouge did not offer a ton in tourist activities, the food was amazing and I was happy to be back in the land of southern hospitality again. I am grateful we had this opportunity to see one of my favorite bands and expand the trip to see 2 new cities at the same time.

Next weekend I am off to Nashville to visit with college friends and see another new southern city. Can’t wait!


Most Wonderful Time of the Year: Cherry Blossoms Bloom in Alexandria

Cherry Blossoms in Bloom Alexandria Virginia | Reidmore Blog

Cherry blossoms blooming in Alexandria VA | Reidmore

This is my second spring living in our charming Alexandria, Virginia townhouse. Last year I was beyond wowed by the pinkest and fluffiest cherry blossom tree in our front courtyard, and shared approximately 500 cherry blossom photos on the blog. This year was no different.

Cherry blossoms blooming in Alexandria VA | Reidmore

I literally counted down the days until our yard turned pink with blooming trees. To celebrate my favorite week of the year, I’m sharing more photos of my beloved cherry blossoms. Sorry in advance for the massive quantity.

Cherry Blossoms in Bloom Alexandria Virginia | Reidmore Blog Cherry Blossoms in Bloom Alexandria Virginia | Reidmore Blog pink cherry blossom tree alexandria va | reidmore

Cherry blossoms alexandria va

Cherry blossoms blooming in Alexandria VA | Reidmore Cherry blossoms blooming in Alexandria VA | Reidmore

Hoping your spring is just as beautiful.

%d bloggers like this: