Trip Review: Nashville

Good evening friends! If you follow us on social media, you know that we spent our weekend in Nashville as a bit of a “baby moon” before our son, Roman, arrives to meet us in September. As part of our blog, we want to do a thorough review of all of our trips in case you all decide it sounds like something you’d like to do in the future! In this post, we’re going to go over what all we did, what we enjoyed, and what we would change for next time. Without further ado, let’s get into it!

First: Accomodations.

During our visit to Nashville, we stayed in the Niido apartment complex (extremely AirBnB friendly), just a couple blocks from Broadway Avenue (for our foreign friends, this is the main area that Nashville is famous for). We use AirBnb for almost all of our travels nowadays, so it was a very good fit for us that the Niido building literally said “Powered by AirBnb” (I’m assuming AirBnB has some sort of ownership stake) on the side of it. Everything access related, from entering the parking garage to unlocking/locking your room, was done through Latch, and app that allows you to open doors and elevators through Bluetooth. This is extremely convenient for both owners and visitors, as there’s no need for a lengthy check-in, etc. The other thing that makes this attractive for renters is the fact that the complex will clean the room for you if you’re renting it out on AirBnb. We’re now actually exploring the possibility of renting one of these apartments for that very reason.

Because this apartment actually has a resident (who is currently residing in another state), we won’t post any pictures for privacy sake, but the apartment was about 800 square feet, extremely clean, and simply yet beautifully decorated. It was a one bedroom and one bathroom apartment, so perfect for what we needed for the weekend. Not only was the apartment extremely attractive, but its proximity to the center of downtown really excited us. We will definitely be checking Niido first when looking at future trips to Nashville. The last thing we’ll mention about the accommodations is the price. For this particular trip, we paid just about $70 per night, which is INCREDIBLE for the location and cleanliness of this place; however, this is mainly due to the fact that travel is low right now, and the pricing during other parts of the year are over $200 per night. I still think the place was beautiful, but we may have done some more research for other places had it been at that price point for the time being. All in all, our accommodations get an A!

Next: Activities

Most of you know that I (Madison), and a major foodie, so along with our activities, we’re going to include some of the restaurants we ate at, and which ones we would recommend to you!

Friday…..

We left for Nashville on Friday around 10:00 a.m. and stopped in Germantown, a section of Louisville, KY. I know, this isn’t Nashville, but the placed we stopped for lunch is a MUST HAVE if you pass through there on your way! We ate at a small place called Monnik Beer Company, which specializes in German food (makes sense, being in Germantown…). Rebecca ordered the Reuben, I ordered the Pork Schnitzel, and we split an order of fries that was smothered with gravy and beef that they use for their Sauerbraten. Let me tell you…..I’m a huge fan of German food, and this may have been the best pork schnitzel I’ve had in my life! If you’re ever driving through Louisville and need to stop for lunch, Monnik is an absolute must try!

After we arrived at our room and rested for about an hour, we went to a local restaurant/bar called the Listening Room, where each night, a musician has a private concert for what I’m guessing would be a couple hundred people. With social distancing guidelines and caps on how many people can be in one space, I’d say there were probably 50 people there, all at tables that were well over 6 feet apart. The music was amazing, and I’d invite you to check the artists out on YouTube if you’re able! Their names are Nick Wayne and Hannah Ellis if you’re interested. While the house lager was a great beer at the Listening Room, we went for something a little lighter to eat. We shared a small order of chicken wings and a small order of fries (I said “lighter,” not “light”). The fries were very good, but I do think the wings were pretty underwhelming. Granted, I think the main allure of this place is the live music, but I would definitely order something different next time. After that, we walked over to Broadway Ave. and found a great little dessert shop called Legendairy Milkshake Bar. To give you some perspective, their milkshakes are $14 dollars and are 16 oz, so I’d recommend you go here well after you’ve already had dinner! Our milkshakes were delicious, but neither of us finished half! After drowning ourselves in pure, sugar heaven, we walked back to our room and called it a night.

Saturday…..

We began the day by having breakfast at a local place called Milk and Honey, where Rebecca had the California breakfast sandwich, I had a sourdough breakfast sandwich with bacon, egg, and cheese, and we split a bowl of pineapple. I had to get some fruit in along with all the starch I was having (I had potatoes as my side)!

Rebecca was nice enough to schedule us a tee time at one of the nicest golf courses in Tennessee: The Gaylord Springs Golf Links. This was, by far, the best golf course I’ve ever played on, and while Rebecca wasn’t able to swing more than just a couple swings on the driving range, she had a blast driving the cart around and giving me advice on shots, which of course, I took! Neither of us are great golfers, so our collaboration was more sarcasm than anything else, but it was a great time nonetheless! One of the things we would have done differently is scheduling the tee time earlier. Ours was at 10:10 a.m., so it was extremely hot and muggy around noon. This is a really small thing to complain about, but it’s the only thing we would change about this particular activity. A short mention about lunch; we at lunch at the course (Madison: Grilled Chicken Caesar Wrap, Rebecca: Turkey Sandwich), and while there was nothing particularly special about it, they were just really good, refreshing sandwiches!

While we were extremely tired after golf, we wanted to do a little shopping at the Opry Mills Outlet Mall. I actually slept in the car for about an hour while Rebecca shopped! Yeah, I was that tired. Afterwards, we went back to the apartment for a nice, long, much needed nap! For dinner, Rebecca was really craving pizza, and we wanted to explore Broadway Ave. a little more, so we found a Mellow Mushroom right on the edge of the strip. I’ve had Mellow Mushroom several times before, but Rebecca had never had it, so this was a great choice! If you’ve never been, this is going to be a solid choice for you, day or night. I will add that while we were on the rooftop at Mellow Mushroom, the Black Lives Matter protest, which was labeled “I Will Breathe,” came through Broadway Ave., and Rebecca and I both admired as the group exercised their free speech and protested for justice for the murder of George Floyd. I did not feel it right of us to go through this entire post without mentioning this. We are deeply saddened by this situation, and we know that we can’t possibly understand what our friends of color go through on a daily basis, and we desperately want to raise our sons in a manner that reflects our character; that no matter what color someone is, we love and respect everyone equally, and we promise to take actionable steps to combat racism. Talk is cheap, so we intend to back it up!

Sunday…..

We called it an early night after having pizza for dinner on Saturday. On Sunday morning, we cleaned, packed, and took off, but first, we stopped for brunch at a small diner simply called, “The Diner.” I don’t recall what Rebecca ordered, and she’s asleep next to me as I write, so there’s no WAY I’m going to interrupt that! I, however, remember what I had! This was the first place that I got something native to the city…..Nashville hot chicken! Because it was brunch, I got the Nashville hot chicken Belgian waffles, and my oh my, they were so worth it. I will tell you though…..Nashville hot chicken isn’t for the faint of heart, so if you aren’t into spicy food, steer away! If you’re a spicy eater, however and you like chicken and waffles, this place is a must have on your stay in Nashville!

Last: Wrap-up

In conclusion, we had a successful weekend, and although it was supposed to be a surprise that Rebecca planned out (a notification from Google Calendar popped up the night before we left), we still enjoyed every bit of it! For future reference, the wrap-up section is where I’ll add in anything we would change going forward, and any advice we have for all of you. The obvious thing we would change first and being able to stay there longer. Nashville is an easy 4 and a half hour drive for us, so a weekend trip is definitely worth it, but we just would’ve liked maybe one or two extra days to enjoy the city. The next change we would make is giving ourselves more time to explore Broadway Avenue. There are so many cool shops, restaurants, and bars along this strip that I think having a full day just to visit all of them would definitely be something we do next time. The last thing we would do is take more advantage of the amenities at the apartment complex, but most of them were closed due to the pandemic, which is totally understandable. Our biggest piece of advice to you would be to build in some rest time! While it may seem counter productive to “not be doing something” while on vacation, the couple hours we took to rest on Saturday before dinner were incredibly valuable. The worst thing about a vacation is coming back home and feeling more exhausted and drained than when you left, so build in some time to relax and recharge!

Alright my friends, that’s it for our first ever Trip Review post! I hope this was of some value to you all. We look forward to several more posts like these, as the world continues to heal, and we get to experience the rest of this world piece by piece 馃檪 Love you all! Have a phenomenal rest of your evening!

Blessings,
Madison

Rebecca’s 5 Baby Moon Must Haves

This post contains affiliate links.

This weekend Madison and I will be traveling away for a Baby Moon! Currently, Madison doesn’t know where we are going, but I know he will love it! Below is my list of 5 things I’m most excited about taking along. Check back next week to hear Madison’s take on our surprise destination and traveling during a pandemic!

  1. Weekender Bag
Affiliate Link
Click on picture to shop – Purchased in Navy Blue

What I love:

  • A bottom compartment so my shoes don’t have to mix with my clothes.
  • 7 inside pockets for me to stay organized
  • Can be used with the arm or cross body straps

  1. Maternity Swimsuit
Click on picture to shop –Purchased in color Slate Blue

What I love:

  • Fits true to pre pregnancy size. I am 5′ 7″ and before baby #2 weighed 148lbs and ordered a size medium.
  • At 23 weeks my belly still has room to grow but it doesn’t look like it’s too big.
  • Modesty – with a growing bust I feel secure and covered.

  1. Hairdryer Brush
Click on picture to shop

What I love:

  • I can do my hair in 5 minutes or less!
  • My hair is pretty straight naturally and with this I don’t need to go over my hair with the straightener.
  • No concern about my baby burning himself with this like I have with my straightener.

  1. Summer Dress
Click on picture to shop –Purchased in Color: Z.hunterbr

What I love:

  • Lightweight material is my favorite about this! I’m always hot so I don’t want to sacrifice being hot for being cute.
  • Gathering under the bust dresses up this dress just enough to take from a day of shopping to dinner.
  • So many colors to choose from – I purchased Color: Z.hunterbr.

  1. Comfy Shoes
Click on picture to shop –Purchased color Black 1

What I love:

  • These are so comfortable! They have amazing foot-bed support which allows me to wear them all day long.
  • The leather is so tough and durable I know they will last me a long time.
  • They are very slip resistant which gives this clumsy prego peace of mind.

Bucket List #26: Sydney

Is it weird that the first time I ever wanted to go to Sydney was after watching “Finding Nemo?” Yeah? Okay, fine. Anyways, it’s great to be back behind the keyboard for something other than arranging a spreadsheet! It’s been a crazy couple of weeks, but with states allowing people to start returning to work, the preparation and training has begun, and along with that comes the mundane tasks like sort spreadsheets, basic cleaning, forecasting, and of course, chatting with vendors to see how the pandemic has affected their companies as well. All in all, being able to connect with all of you on social media and through some of the comments on our posts has been amazing, and it provides such a nice escape! As we’ve plainly stated here and on social media, we’d love to get to a point where we can travel and blog full time, but until then, work must go on! I will be updating you all with a schedule in the coming days so you know when to expect posts! I’m sure it won’t be daily as it was in the beginning of our lockdown, but it will be as frequently as it possibly can under the current circumstances. But with all that being said, I’m really excited to talk about Sydney! I’ve actually had a couple friends from high school that have lived there for an extended amount of time, and I get jealous every time I see them posting photos! Here are the 3 things we want to visit in Sydney, along with some local foods we want to try 馃檪

First: Sydney Opera House.

If you didn’t know this would be first, then you DEFINITELY haven’t read any of our posts before! That’s okay, we’ll allow it……this time. The theater is something very dear to my heart, and this is easily one of the most recognizable in the world. We would, without a doubt, be taking the guided tour, as the history is just as cool, to me, as the theater itself. Many a show will be taken in while on our visit to Sydney!

Next: Taronga Zoo.

While almost every place we’ve written about has had a zoo, we haven’t put those in our places to visit yet. However, seeing how much Griffin has loved animals lately (being around dogs and constantly screaming “Birdie!”), and being so intrigued by the Aussie wildlife, this would be a perfect place for our little family to go! With Rebecca being due in September, however, this trip will be one for a couple years down the road, as I would want Roman to be able to experience all of this with us as well 馃檪

Last: Hyde Park

Along with our little family theme of seeing the zoo, Hyde Park is a great place for Rebecca and I to get in some people-watching, and for the family to have a picnic! Hyde Park is also surrounded by beautiful buildings, including a few museums, so I can get my history fix in while we’re there. Fun fact that has absolutely nothing to do with this trip; I had my first ever taste of Wagyu beef at a restaurant near home called Hyde Park. Now that you learned something about me that you’ll literally never need to know, let’s move on to my always-favorite part of my posts: FOOD!

Here are a few things we want to try in Sydney!

  1. Beetroot burger
    • I admit, this sounds incredibly odd…If there’s one thing us Americans can lay claim to, it’s being the burger capital of the world. I can’t say I’ve ever even thought of putting beetroot on a burger, but I’ll never judge until I try! I just hope it doesn’t ruin a perfectly good burger……
  2. Kangaroo
    • To show you how uncultured I am, I literally had no idea that kangaroo was eaten until looking it up for this article! I’m always interested in trying meat other than the traditional beef, poultry, or pork. I sometimes find it difficult to get the “gamey” taste out of my mouth with certain meats, but I’m always down to try a new one!
  3. Fantales
    • Gotta have a sweet treat, right? Nice and simple, this is chewy caramel wrapped in milk chocolate….my favorite kind of chocolate! If it’s got caramel in it, I’ll eat it no questions asked!

That’s all I have for Sydney, my friends! I hope you enjoyed 馃檪 like I said earlier, I’ll lay out a schedule for you in the next couple of days, both so you know when to expect another post, and so I have something to stay accountable to! It’s been easy to let procrastination and “life” get in the way of cutting out time, but it’s a must, especially if we want to do this full time someday! Also, this is the first and only time I’ll mention this, but we added a plugin to all of our pages on the bottom right. It looks like a cup of coffee, and it will ask if you’d like to donate a “cup of coffee” to help keep the site running. We don’t want you to get bombarded with ads, so this is the path we’ve chosen for potentially earning an income through blogging. Like I said, I’ll (probably) never mention it again, but I just wanted anyone that reads this to be aware in case they were feeling extra generous one of these days 馃檪 Thank you so much for reading! Have a wonderful rest of your evening!

Blessings,
Madison

Bucket List #25: Quebec City

Out of all the posts I’ve written so far, I’ve yet to write about our friends to the North! There are actually a lot of places in Canada that I’d like to visit, so expect more form this beautiful country in the near future! Also, apologies for the length of time it’s taken me to get back on the wagon of writing these daily posts! Our state has opened up at 25% capacity, so we’ve just been getting things ready for an eventual return, and it’s taken a little cut into our time and energy, but I want to get back to a good routine for these posts! After all, there’s no shortage of bucket list destinations I have in store for you 馃檪 so, let’s talk about Quebec City! Here are the 3 things we want to do, and the 3 foods we want to try.

First: La Citadelle de Qu茅bec

Home to the oldest military building in Canada, La Citadelle was built in the 1820s (the modern portion), and was given to the Canadian government by the British in the 1870s. Since then, it’s been used as an active military site, and receives over 200,000 visitors every year. This is another cool place to watch the ceremonial changing of the guard. I’m not sure why I find that so interesting, but I’ve always had such an admiration for those that defend our countries, and this would be no exception!

Next: Observatoire de la Capitale

As the name would imply, this is an observatory that sits on the 31st floor of the Marie-Guyart Building. Anywhere I go that has access to a 360 panoramic view, you better believe that I’m going! We’ll also get to experience the interactive exhibits that go through this history of Quebec City, so I’ll get my historical fix as well!

Last: Carnaval de Qu茅bec

We have another Carnaval! I have talked about a carnaval since Rio de Janeiro, so this will be fun, albeit very different! This celebration takes place over two weeks in January and February, and is full of dogsled races, skating, sledding, and…..shiver……snow swimming! I’m assuming this is equivalent of what we call “Polar Bear Plunges,” but nonetheless, this sounds like an amazing celebration that we will attend! That solves our planning of when the trip will occur!

Speaking of which, Rebecca and I are finally planning another trip! While we are supremely aware that the world isn’t out of the woods yet with this crazy situation, we know that in 2021, there will be opportunities to go other places. Seeing how our baby, Roman, will be born in September, we’ll most likely want to keep it short, so I don’t see us leaving the States, but I’ll be sure to keep you all updated!

Now, let’s talk about some food we want to try in Quebec City!

  1. Poutine
    • I’ve had things that are similar to poutine, but never the real deal. Trust me, I will eat every bit of it in sight! Essentially, this dish is a combination of french fries and cheese curds, all covered in gravy. How this isn’t an American popularity is beyond me! My arteries will be disappointed, but my stomach won’t be!
  2. Crepes
    • They’re savory, they’re sweet, they’re basically whatever you want them to be, and we love them! My grandmother actually used to make us “pancakes” when we were younger, but looking back, they were actually very close to being crepes, so I’ve preferred them much more than anything else. I’m weird enough that I might make a day of crepes only out of this vacation. Sweet for breakfast, savory for lunch, and maybe a bit of both for dinner 馃檪
  3. Tim Hortons
    • I know, it isn’t a dish, but Tim Hortons will be a daily stop for us. Whether it’s just what’s sold to us on American t.v., or if Canadians actually love Tim Hortons as much as it’s broadcasted, I know exactly where I’m getting my cup of jo and morning doughnut!

Okay friends, that’s all we have for Quebec City! Like I said, expect more bucket list destinations from our friends to the North in the near future! I hope you all had a wonderful day, and that you have an even better tomorrow 馃檪

Blessings,
Madison

Bucket List #24: Krak贸w

I’ve been wanting to post about Krak贸w for a few days, but with us skipping bucket list #22, and wanting to spill a little about our quarantine experience, it got pushed to today. I was actually inspired to write about Poland by Rebecca’s sister-in-law, who was actually born in Poland, speaks Polish completely fluently, and has parents in the states that have lived in Poland their whole lives! I foresee another post about Poland in the near future (Warsaw, to be specific), but I want to start with Krak贸w due to the heritage of our sister-in-law! I do also want to address something really quickly. With my return to the office to continue preparing for what seems like a near return in our state, there isn’t nearly as much time to plan posts out or to write the post out, but I am still loving all of the writing. I wouldn’t consider stopping for anything, but I just wanted to make sure there was some context behind why there might not be as much playful banter at the beginning of posts, and why we might start jumping straight into our 3 attractions and 3 dishes. That being said, hopefully we could get to a point where writing would get us to the income level of being able to switch lines of work, but we’ll see what happens! Now, enough of all that, let’s get to the 3 things we wan to do on a trip to Krak贸w!

First: Schindler’s Factory

I’m sure most of us have seen Schindler’s List (we were required to watch it during my senior year of high school), and this is the very factory in which the movie is based. While some of the factory was converted into an art museum, much of it still remains intact from World War 2 times, and there are several pieces on display that were built by the workers and preserved through today. I’m extremely interested in World War 2 history, so this would be a fantastic place to start and learn on our visit to Krak贸w.

Next: Wawel Castle

You know I love a good castle 馃檪 this castle is not only gorgeous, but it was also the 1st ever World Heritage Site named by UNESCO. It was built between the 13th and 14th century, and there are several tours that can be taken through the castle. I’d be most interested in seeing the Royal Private Apartments, where you can see the chambers of former Kings, Queens, and other royalty.

Last: Wieliczka Salt Mine

Wieliczka is just outside of Krak贸w, and in this little town is one of the coolest things I’ve ever heard of! One thing I learned about Krak贸w is that it’s growth was heavily due to the production and sale of salt, and the Wieliczka Salt Mine was a big factor in that growth. The cool thing, however, is that inside of the mine is a 465 square meter chapel, known as St. Kinga’s Chapel, and it’s made entirely of salt! It’s more than 100 meters underground, and parties/events can be held there holding a maximum of around 400 people. Pretty cool, huh?

Alright, that’s really cool, but what’s even cooler is the amazing food we’re going to try! Here are the 3 foods we want to try while in Krak贸w.

  1. Every single pierogi in Poland
    • Sure, I’ve had some at restaurants, and I’ve even had the frozen ones that you can get at any supermarket, but I NEED some real, authentic pierogies! I’ll be sure to eat enough for both you and me 馃檪
  2. Bigos
    • A traditional holiday stew (again with the soups and stews), this is made with sauerkraut and usually given volume with kielbasa and pork. Can I have 3 bowls? No? Okay…
  3. Paczki
    • I have to throw in a dessert, right? Paczkis are basically the same as American donuts, but lighter, fluffier, and slightly less dense. According to roaduntraveled.com, this is due to the dough containing a tiny bit of grain alcohol so the oil doesn’t absorbed when being cooked. I don’t know about you, but I’ll take one filled with raspberry jam please!

Honorable mention: Beer. That’s all 馃檪 Poland has a very happening beer scene, and as an avid beer drinker, this is my complete list of honorable mentions!

Okay friends, that’s it for Krak贸w! Also, make sure to tune in to tomorrow’s post if you’re interested in hearing about the theme for next week! Hope you all have a great rest of your evening 馃檪

Blessings,
Madison

Bucket List #23: Natadola Beach, Fiji

I must admit, friends, there has been somewhat of a lack of motivation on my part yesterday and today. It could be the lockdown, it could be the joy of finding out we’re having a baby boy, or it could just be “one of those days.” In any case, I chose to skip yesterday’s post to celebrate us finding out that Griffin will be a big brother in September, and we’ve chosen to name him Roman Ray Foster! If you follow us on Twitter or Instagram, you’ll know this already, but we just wanted to share it with those of you that haven’t seen it yet. Today’s post will be slightly different in the sense that I’d like to write about EXACTLY what I want to be doing at this moment. All of my ‘bucket list’ posts are places that I would love to see, but not all of them are things I want to do right this second. I’d like to plan them out and make sure we’re ready for it. For today though, this is what I wish I was doing to decompress from this lockdown. There are so many people that have had it more difficult that we have, and we are so unbelievably blessed to have had good health through this whole situation, but the recent week has become a little draining on our mental state. We’re still staying positive, but this is where I want to be to chill out and let go for a while 馃檪 Here’s what we want to do on a vacation to Natadola Beach in Fiji!

You’re gonna love this……

Are you ready?

Just. Do. Nothing.

Yes, I did realize that that sounds like a cop-out, but I’m saying it anyways! One of the things that’s been difficult about this lockdown is the amount of time we’ve been searching for something to do, without letting ourselves just do nothing for a while. All of the parents will shout “AMEN” when they hear this, but having a toddler that does nothing but go makes it difficult to stop and do nothing at any point in the day, but especially when both mommy and daddy get to be home to play with him all day long! When I first wrote, “Just. Do. Nothing.,” I thought to myself, how does that even make sense right now? We have all day to do that, right? However, I can confidently say that we’re both more mentally drained right now that we’ve ever been.

To be 100% honest with you, when this lockdown first started, I was looking forward to the extra time at home with Rebecca and Griffin. I’d been telling Rebecca lately that I wish I could be home more and that my goal in building our business (and now this blog) was to ultimately free up our location requirements that are attached to our income, that way I can be with them wherever we want and still be able to work. The first few days were magnificent! Obviously, we were devastated at what was happening in the world, and we will never take that lightly, but I was able to be home with that all day long with nowhere else to be, even if it was a governmental mandate. I got to play with Griffin as much as I wanted, which I’m sure was a nice change of pace for momma, and her and I were able to go on walks together and spend much needed time together. However, there came a point, and everyone will know what I mean, when it felt like every day started to blend together: Go to be early because there was nothing to do, wake up late because there was nowhere to be, eat breakfast, play with Griffin, lunch time, nap time, play some more, dinner, and off to bed again.

Let me continue to make this clear….we’re so grateful that we’ve maintained our health so far, and we’ll continue to do what we need to do to make sure that stays the same for us and for those around us. That being said, we know we aren’t the only ones who have struggled with mental health during this situation. Here are a couple reasons why we want to go to the beach and do nothing for a little while:

  1. Mental health status
  2. We’re firm believers in “change is as good as a rest,” so even though we aren’t doing a ton right now, I think doing “not much” somewhere else that’s not home would feel fantastic, and…
  3. We’ve had so many vacation plans ruined over the last two years, we’re just ready for one to work out, even if it means flying somewhere with no agenda! We’ve had plans to go live in Europe for 3 months foiled, a trip to Disney that was interrupted by life, and another trip we were going to do to Disney this fall, which, for obvious reason, won’t be happening.

We just need a win when it comes to the travel department of our lives! Don’t get me wrong, we love being together, we love living in Indiana, and we’re genuinely happy people, but we just want to do life together in a different place sometimes, and that’s where Fiji comes in 馃檪

Natadola Beach is widely regarded as the most beautiful beach in Fiji, so if we’re gonna fly all the way around the world, it might as well be the best! Here’s my ideal beach day:

We wake up, not too late, but not so early that we don’t feel refreshed (maybe 8:30 a.m.). We go grab breakfast, preferably one that includes some orange juice that may or may not be spiked….go out to the beach and toss the football around with Griffin. He can’t play catch quite yet, but he sure loves throwing the ball and going and getting it by himself! Then, we take that perfect Instagram photo, you know, the one where we’re looking out at the water with just our legs visible in the picture to let you know we’re really there? I like to be out in the water with my chair, enough that is brushes up underneath me, but doesn’t take me completely under. After beach time, we go to lunch and take a nap. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, we all need a nap on vacation! After nap time, I’m think some sort of attraction like zip lining in Nadi or taking a Fijan day cruise. I know it’s not “nothing,” but it’s more relaxing and less brain power than taking in a museum (I still love them, I just want to take my ‘nothing’ vacation first!). Afterwards, we go to dinner at one of the local restaurants. I want to go somewhere in Nadi that’s full of authentic Fijan cuisine and not geared for tourists (I’m seeing a restaurant called “Tu’s Place” that’s popping up frequently). After dinner, it’s back to the beach for an hour or two to take in the beautiful sunset. THAT…is my perfect day at Natadola Beach 馃檪

Thank you for reading! Love you all!

Blessings,
Madison

Bucket List #21: Geneva

Hey friends! I’m excited to be back writing today! It’s always fun to do Friday’s post knowing I have a couple days off from doing another one, but by the time Monday rolls around, I’m ready to get back after it again! As you can see by the title, today is going to be about Geneva, Switzerland! I don’t have a particular theme for this week, so I just want to write about some cool places that have been on my mind. Geneva is particularly at the forefront of my mind right now because I was invited to go there with a friend in the first week of June. We had a trip planned to go back to Ireland and do some mission work in Cork, but that was going to be preceded by a week outside of Geneva, enjoying Switzerland’s beauty. Sadly, the Switzerland part of the trip will be out of the question, as there are just too many unknowns when it comes to whether or not travel restrictions will be lifted, and if there will be any time to make plans once they are. The Ireland part of the trip is a little more likely because it’s a week later, but we also want to respect whatever laws and recommendations are put in place during this time. I hope it works out, but if not, there’s always next time. With all that being said, let’s dive into the 3 things we want to do on a trip to Geneva!

First: Temple de Saint-Pierre

If you’ve followed this blog for any period of time, you know by now that historical Roman Catholic churches are one of my favorite pieces are architecture. Because Europe is so rich in these kinds of buildings, I almost make it a point to seek out the most famous one in each destination I write about, and Saint-Pierre is no exception. It was built in the mid 1100s as a cathedral, and was changed into a protestant church during the Reformation. It’s also noted that the chairs used by John Calvin still exist inside the Temple, as much of the original altars and paintings were removed by Calvin’s followers.

Next: Palais des Nations

This beautiful complex of buildings is the home of the European headquarters for the U.N, and is also the 2nd largest U.N. building in the world, behind that of New York City. Fun fact for how busy this place is: In 2012, this building hosted over 10,000 transnational meetings! As a mecca of world communication, this would definitely be somewhere we’d want to take a guided tour! On their website, it says you can take a guided tour that will last about an hour, so this is a must-do for us!

Last: Bask in the beauty of Lake Geneva

Every single picture I’ve ever seen of Lake Geneva is simply stunning. While I don’t know if this necessarily counts as an “attraction,” I very much believe that enjoying the beauty of another country fully satisfies that requirement. With an amazing view of the Alps, this would be a spot to take some amazing pictures to last a lifetime!

Hey, I did a post without a museum! Don’t worry, they’re still in my honorable mentions 馃檪 I’d love to visit the Ariana Museum and the Patek Philippe Museum to learn more about the making of beautiful Swiss timepieces!

Alright, now let’s move on to the food! Here are 3 foods we’re going to have while we’re in Switzerland!

  1. Raclette
    • This has easily been the most common one I’ve seen while researching. Basically, this dish is a raclette cheese wheel that’s served with the purpose of melting it to scrape the cheese onto your plate/whatever food you’re pairing it with. Most traditionally, it’s served with potatoes, pickles, and dried meats like salami.
  2. All the Swiss Chocolate I can get my hands on
    • I promise I’m not being lazy, this literally just doesn’t need any further explaining
  3. 脛lplermagronen
    • This is basically the same things as potatoes au gratin, except under the gratin includes macaroni, onions, cream, and addition cheese, all served with a side of stewed apples. I can’t say I’ve thought of stewed apples as a side, but it sure sounds great!

Alright you awesome people! That’s all I have for Geneva! Again, I’m super bummed that it won’t work out for me to be able to go, but I’m excited to go some day when I can take the whole family and not just go with my friend 馃檪 I hope you all had a great start to your week! Have a great rest of your evening!

Blessings,
Madison

Bucket List #20: Iceland

Today, we make a pretty significant jump in both population and overall size of country. Yesterday, we talked about Andorra, a country with a population of 77,000 and 470 square kilometers to Iceland, a country with a population of about 341,000 and over 100,000 square kilometers. Worldometers.info does have the Isle of Man and the Channel Island listed as well, and while I’m not writing about them because they aren’t countries, I’ve at least mentioned the other territories, so here’s me shouting out those two as well! Since Iceland is so much bigger than the countries we’ve been talking about, I’ve decided to narrow this one down to one city. I’m sure it wouldn’t be too difficult to get around, considering it’s only the size of Kentucky, but it’s still significantly bigger than the previous countries. With that being said, I’m going to focus specifically on the capital city, Reykjav铆k. Wherever we chose, there HAD to be a clear way of seeing the Northern Lights, and I found that you can see them either in Reykjav铆k, or near that area. I’m not going to write further about the Northern Lights, as I’m sure that’s a given for almost anyone that’s going to visit Iceland! However, here are 3 more things we want to do on a trip to Iceland.

First: Hallgr铆mskirkja Church

This was definitely the most universal “#1” I found on any list about the best places to visit in Reykjav铆k. You can ride to the top of the 74 meter steeple or hear the gigantic pipe organ (25 tons!). This magnificent church took over 40 years to finish construction, and I’m reading that it’s just as beautiful on the inside as it is on the outside!

Next: Take in a concert at the Harpa Concert Hall

As a fine arts lover, I want to enjoy beautiful music in every iconic concert venue I possibly can, and Harpa is no exception. This is, however, the newest of the venues I’ve written about, having been completed in 2011. The building is very eclectic in it’s appearance as well, having a honeycomb-type pattern on the outside that change colors throughout the night. Even if I don’t see a concert here, the area it’s located in is beautiful and the building itself is worth the view!

Last: Arbaer Open Air Museum

You thought I was going to end this one without a museum, didn’t you? Hey, if you’re not a museum person, this one is at least a little different than the others! This is a tour of a village and farm full of historical and authentic Icelandic homes, and it was awarded the country’s museum of the year in 2006. There were several other museums that looked promising, including The Settlement Exhibition, which takes a dive into the history of the Vikings through historical artifacts. “How to Train Your Dragon” was one of my favorite Disney movies, so I basically know everything there is to know about Vikings, right?…..Kidding, but this would be close second for my museum choice of this trip.

Alright, this should be interesting. I, again, know nothing about this country’s food, so this took some exploring! Here we go…here are 3 foods we want to have while we’re in Iceland.

  1. Kj枚tsupa
    • This is a hearty lamb soup made with cheap, tough cuts of lamb, onion, garlic, parsley, carrots, potatoes, oats, and a few other herbs and spices. Here’s a delicious recipe I found for you to peek at: https://www.thespruceeats.com/kjotsupa-icelandic-lamb-soup-2952929
    • Also, I’m going to try to link to other blogs as often as possible for two reasons.
      1. It helps that persons’ blog grow by linking to their website
      2. It allows you to see the full recipe instead just my short snip-its!
  2. Svi冒
    • I have no idea how to pronounce that word, but Google translate tells me that it means….wait for it…..sheep’s head! And by head, I literally mean that it’s the head of a sheep on a plate. Now, I admit that I may not be as excited to try this as other dishes, but it’s wildly different than anything I’ve seen in the States, so for adventure’s sake, I’m game for this! Although I’m sure it’s biased, I saw some articles saying that the cheek of the sheep is the tastiest meat one can have, so I definitely want to find out!
  3. Hr煤tspungar
    • If you thought number 2 was adventurous, wait until you hear this. Hr煤tspungar is……….Sour…….Ram’s…….Testicles! I have to be honest, I didn’t know that that could be made into a dish. What’s even stranger to me is that this seems to be more of a delicacy served on special occasions! I do admit that 2 and 3 were definitely the most bold choices I could have made, but the fact that this is a dish I could actually order amazes me. Here’s to adventure!

This was a fun one! Although there are countries ranked ahead of Iceland in terms of my top 3 attractions I’d like to visit, I think that there are more “honorable mentions” here than any other place. There were at least 5 other things I found that would be extremely interesting to me, but I have a schedule and I’m sticking to it 馃檪 Thank you all for reading! Have a great weekend!

Blessings,
Madison

Bucket List #19: Andorra

I love France, and I love Spain, so how about a country landlocked by both? That’s right! Today, we’re talking about Andorra, the largest of the European microstates, and coming in with a population of just over 77,000. Also, as I’ve said before, I’m getting my info from worldometers.info, which has the Faroe Islands listed before Andorra, but I’m only including recognized countries and not territories. I’m sure they’re just as great! But for simplicity’s sake, just countries. Although, that does give me an idea for a future series on island territories! Anyways, Andorra is a country that I know very little about, and while I’ve said that about a lot of my posts lately, I really prefer it this way! This forces me to research and develop a better understanding of places that I know virtually nothing about, and I hope that some of my thoughts and dreams have a positive impact on all of you 馃檪 Here are 3 things we want to do in Andorra!

First: Spend the day in Andorra la Vella

As the capital city of Andorra, this city is small enough to get around just by walking, but still offers all the beauty and allure of a capital city. One of the things I love about these small countries is that one of the “attractions” I write in these posts can literally be an entire city! I come from smalltown Midwest, so I’m used to places like these! They’re our comfort zone 馃檪 Some highlights of a visit to Andorra la Vella would include: Esgl茅sia de Sant Esteve (11th-12th century church), Casa de la Vell (seat of the government built in 1580), and of course…shop! (I’ve read that there’s a bustling shopping disctrict)

Next: Centre Termol煤dic Caldea

I never would’ve guessed that this would be in Andorra. This building is home to the largest spa complex in Europe! Full of saunas, jacuzzis, indoor and outdoor lagoons, all different kinds of treatment and therapies, this will be MUCH needed after a long flight and a day walking around Andorra la Vella!

Last: Santa Coloma Church

Andorra has several very old Catholic churches, and Santa Coloma is the oldest. The main part of the building dates back to the 9th century (some references say 8th), and the tower was built in the 12th. The tremendous amount of history this church has been through makes the trip to visit worth it. There are also murals that used to be in the church that are housed in the Andorran Government Exhibition Hall, although Wikipedia (I know, I know) says that there are still visual remnants of those murals in the church today.

I feel like I’ve gotten a little more colorful with my food descriptions lately. Have I? Tell me in the comments if you’ve been reading along 馃檪 Here are 3 foods we’re going to try in Andorra!

  1. Escudella
    • This is universally accepted as the country’s national dish. It’s served primarily in the winter, and is a hearty stew full of veggies, pasta, several different meats like sausage, chicken, and pork.
    • Side note – I feel like most countries I write about are notorious for a certain type of soup or stew, which is strange to me because the States aren’t huge on those. I mean, we love them! But they probably wouldn’t be in the top 20 dishes associated with the USA.
  2. Cargols
    • I’ll admit, I’ve never had snails before, but I’m open to it because they’re so popular in Andorra. From what I can find, they’re traditionally oven-baked and served with garlic mayonnaise. I don’t know if I’ll like them, but the garlic mayo will sure help!
  3. Crema Andorrana
    • Time for dessert! This is the Andorran take on cr猫me br没l茅e, with the exception being that the traditional torched sugar on top is replaced with a big dollop of whipped cream. I know it sounds strange, but I actually don’t prefer torched sugar, so this will make the dessert that much better for me!

Okay friends, that’s all I have for Andorra! If you enjoyed this or have ever been, make sure to drop a comment down below! Also, make sure to follow us on all of our social media accounts to keep up with us! Have a great rest of your night 馃檪

Blessings,
Madison

Bucket List #18: Monaco

Hello everyone! I hope you’re all having a great day 馃檪 My evening posts are most likely going to become the norm with work starting to return. Although our employees aren’t back to work yet, due to state restrictions, we have been preparing for when we return to work, which has cut into the normal afternoon writing time. That being said, I’m still committing to writing a post every day, Monday-Friday! I’ll just have to wait until we put our young one down to get going. However, I’m really excited about today’s post! Coming in at a population just above 39,000, we have Monaco! I’ve only ever heard amazing things about this country, so it’s definitely got my gears turning about what this trip will be like! Here are the 3 things our family would want to do on a trip to Monaco:

First: Spend a day in Monte Carlo.

We would definitely want to stay in the Hotel de Paris, and I would most certainly want to be here AT LEAST a whole day, if not more! I can’t imagine a scenario in which this trip would be cheap, so we might as well blow it out in this beacon of beauty and glamour. I envision a trip to Casino de-Monte Carlo, enjoying a meal or two at one of the three Michelin-starred restaurants, and maybe spotting a celebrity or two! We might have to start saving now for this one…

Next: Mus茅e Oceanographique

I know, I always have a museum on my posts, but this one is just pure magic! This museum is more of an aquarium than an actual museum, and has 3 separate aquariums (Tropical, Mediterranean, and Shark Lagoon). It houses several thousand species of exotic fish, and has a rooftop restaurant offering a panoramic view of the coastline! One of the coolest parts: It’s been here for over 100 years! Besides it being right on the coast and being simply gorgeous, I personally love going to aquariums!

Last: Formula One Grand Prix

As you know, our family loves sports, and this is an absolute no brainer! We currently live in Carmel, which is about 20 minutes from downtown Indianapolis. If you know anything about Indy, you’ll know that every year, it plays host to the biggest racing event in the world: The Indy 500. We aren’t huge racing fans, but we’re fans of anything that brings that comes with that kind of magnitude! As much as we love watching Indycar, we’d love to see it going through the streets of Monaco instead of in a circle like Indy! (We love watching the Indy 500, it would just be cool to see a change)

Alright, now let’s talk about 3 dishes we want to try while in Monaco!

  1. Barbajuan
    • This is the national dish of Monaco, and is similar to a fritter or empanada that’s stuffed with ricotta and some sort of greens like spinach or Swiss chard. Some preparations vary by adding in onions, leeks, or rice, but the cheese and greens are a must! I can confidently say that I could consume 10 of these in one sitting…..Not that I should! But I probably could.
  2. Gnocchi
    • While it’s not necessarily native to Monaco, it’s on every list I can find about the most popular foods in the country. I could eat gnocchi every single day of the year. As much as I wish i was kidding, I totally could! Count me in for every version of gnocchi I can find while in Monaco!
  3. Porchetta
    • I’m ashamed to admit….I’ve never actually had porchetta! I’ve seen it made several hundred times on YouTube, and it looks positively fantastic! If you aren’t aware, porchetta is a rolled, boneless pork belly that’s stuffed with herbs and spices (several different variations, but this is what I would like), and roasted until tender with a super crispy skin on the outside! Okay, who’s coming with us?!

This country looks absolutely magnificent! I will say, this looks to be one of the more expensive trips I’ve written about, so we’ll start tucking our change away right now so we can go and fill you all in! Thanks for reading, and have a great rest of your evening 馃檪

Blessings,
Madison