Ari’s first out of the country trip was last October (unless Puerto Rico counts… I suppose it does but anyway…) We flew over the pond to Positano for a beautiful wedding celebrating two of our loved ones. Ari was six years old at the time and she was an excellent traveler. There were a few other children from our family that went on the trip as well and guess which one complained the most… ME.
My husband and I travel a lot and one thing a lot of people don’t know (he certainly does though!) is that I am afraid of heights and hence I am afraid of being in an airplane hundreds, thousands, I don’t even know how far off of the ground. I hate it and have found myself crying on several trips and reciting rosaries over and over again at the slightest turbulence. Ah yes, it’s something I’m working on. Flying with Ari though I can’t have a panic attack because I would never want to make her scared of traveling and exploring. I want her to be fearless and blissful (to an extent, I do believe a bit of anxiety is actually beneficial in some aspects of life) so I take deep breathes and tell myself to suck it up, grin and bear it when she is next to me… all while sweating profusely and whispering Hail Mary under my breathe.
Anyway, the first city we went to was Florence. Nick studied abroad here so he knew the city well. We saw his old school and went to his old favorite restaurant which was amazing. The food in Italy is not hit or miss. You can go into any mom and pop joint in my opinion and eat the best dish of pasta you’ve ever had, until the next meal of course. I went to Florence ten years ago with my family and it was nostalgic being there. I kept trying to piece together memories. The Ponte Veccio is the bridge I almost rolled off of and died after my dress flew up and I tried to smack it down before I gave other tourists a show. My parents were convinced I had an angel watching over me that day. I was just glad no one saw the knickers. The city seemed like a big maze when I was younger but on this trip it finally made sense and I was able to navigate my way around.
After Florence and a mistake train ride to Bologna (I used to believe my husband was always right, until I started traveling Europe with him) we made it to Positano for the wedding. The Amalfi Coast is nothing short of beautiful. We stayed at a hotel that was on the bottom of the mountain, right next to the boats. I loved it because it felt so convenient. One morning our family decided to take a boat to Capri. They had to hike down the mountain to get there. I just had to watch from the balcony over breakfast, wait for the line to die down, walk down the stairs and hop in line with them. A lot of the restaurants are on the bottom of the mountain as well so if you are planning on a visit and you’ve got bad knees or whatever, you will still enjoy yourself and have a beautiful upward panorama if you are lower. Of course the wedding festivities were up the mountain so I did my fair share of hiking on the trip as well. If you’re going to Positano bring flats. Sure there are cars but driving through those winding streets off of the cliffs are scary and you’ll want to browse all of the cute shops and secret passage ways and corridors so I wouldn’t even suggest relying on it! I had no idea what to expect but my Louboutins were not having it. Hence for the most part of the trip I ended up wearing beautiful dresses paired with old flip flops until I got to my final destination.
What I wanted to look like all of the time as opposed to what I really liked most of the time.
If you do go to Positano get on that boat because Capri is gorgeous and if you like to shop they have a lot of options and higher end stores if that’s your thing. Ari found a beautiful dress at a little boutique for cheap as well as a beautiful doll that she named Limone. I picked up perfume from Carthusia. It smelled lovely but unfortunately my bottle of perfume broke on my trip back to America so I was left with only a day’s use. Just another excuse to go back though! I also found these amazing chocolate covered limoncello balls. Wow. I have a few left that I hoard and savor. There is also this crazy elevator tram that goes through the island to take people up and down. I’ve never seen anything like it! You’re packed in like sardines but it saves a taxi ride or sore feet.
After Positano all of us went to Rome. Nick and I had just been in Rome for part of our honeymoon so for me it felt like, “oh hello again old friend.” Nick and I revisited a lot of sights to show our family and our little Ari.
I do have to mention a few places outside of Rome that are worth a visit.
After Italy it was off to Paris and London. Ari says her favorite country is London. I’m still trying to explain the difference between cities and countries and continents to her… but you get the point. She loved London. She loved their accents and she loved tea time even though she cried in Harrods’ tea parlor because she burned her tongue on scalding tea. Poor baby. Tea time is very special to Ari and I. When we lived in Naples, Florida we went to Brambles Tea Room a lot to just have well, serious female bonding time. Tea time is just such a luxury. It’s not a mandatory meal, it’s just an excuse to take time out for yourself and loved ones if they’re around and simply treat yourself to flavored flower water, honey and little sandwiches and pastries. You don’t work on your computer, you don’t play on your phone. You simply indulge in little treats and talk to your company in the middle of the afternoon (often the most stressful run around exhaustive time for some people or when they just need a little break to day dream). Its like a much needed siesta/meditation with others in my opinion. Tea time is a lost art.
Anyway, Ari enjoyed the London Eye, the many merry go rounds they have around the city and the Big Bus Tour. She also was romanticized by the idea that a Queen and a Princess lived in London. She was really hoping to spot them when we went past Buckingham Palace but no luck of course. I personally was excited to see Ben’s cookies again. I’ve traveled a lot of the world, certainly not all of it but a lot, and I can say that Ben’s cookies make the most Delicious Chocolate Chip Cookie I have ever had.
Paris. My dream city. A woman I love very much, who was more of a mother figure for me in college than anything else, used to have me over for tea and we would talk and she would counsel me every week. She sometimes gave me food to take home, chili one time, brownies another. She and her husband put together Ari’s crib for me and one time she even watched Ari for me when I needed to finish a paper. She was so kind to me and she never expected anything in return. She was Jewish and I remember thinking that although she is Jewish she is the most Christ like person I have ever met. To give, to welcome, to accept and to expect nothing in return is exactly how I think Christ would want us all to be. I also just thought she was fascinating. I loved her home, I loved the stories she shared about her own life and I held on to her every word because she is so wise in my eyes. One day I asked her, of everywhere that she had been what was her favorite place. She said Paris because of the light. She said the light was different there and she couldn’t explain way. Perhaps it was because of the way it reflected off of The Seine. I then knew that before I died I would have to see Paris. I just didn’t think it was going to be anytime when I was still in my 20’s let alone 30’s. But my husband made another dream come true for me and took Ari and I to Paris. We stayed in this beautiful hotel, Hotel Plaza Athenee, in the honey moon suite which was hilarious to me because obviously we had Ari with us so it could not be the seductive hideaway it was meant to be for those couple of days. There were rose petals all over the bed, a bottle of champagne with freshly baked banana bread and candles lit all over the bath tub. So… our six year old took candle lit baths every night, played in the rose petals and helped Nick and I eat the banana bread.
Ari had just watched Audrey Hepburn’s Funny Face before we went on the trip so every chance she got she shouted, “Bonjour Pareeeeee!!!”
After almost two weeks of traveling I fell very sick when we arrived in Paris but I did not let that stop me. The adrenaline of a dream come true helped me drag my sniffly achy body through the city to see the beautiful light reflect off of each gorgeous piece of architecture. We were able to run through the Louvre, make it over to the Eiffel Tower eat delicious souffles at our favorite restaurant justly called “Le Souffle” all while still giving Ari time to play at Luxembourg’s wonderful park and gardens.
This two week long trip was actually the most romantic trip I have ever been on, kid included. It was our first international trip as a family. A week before Nick and I had returned from our Honeymoon in Europe (will post this soon) and as beautiful and special as it was, there was just nothing like a family trip and seeing my husband bond with our daughter like that. I came home loving him so much more and really feeling like a family.