Paris, France

This may sound strange because it’s such an iconic city, but Paris has never been super high on our list of places we wanted to visit. However, due to using airline miles to pay for our plane tickets, we were limited on places we could fly in and out of on the dates that we wanted. So Paris was the city that lined up best with the departure date we wanted. We figured we might as well see the city while we were there. And oh my, am I glad we did! We loved visiting Paris!

Time Spent in Paris: 23 hours

Where we stayed: Hotel Jean Bart

Where we ate: 

Le Royal
Pomme de Pain

What we saw/did:

Eiffel Tower
Louvre Museum (best museum of our trip!)
Notre Dame Cathedral
Sainte Chapelle
Luxembourg Gardens

Total Steps: 26,773

Miles Walked: 12

Floors Climbed: 19

Overall thoughts: Paris was such a fun city! I liked so many things about it, but the Eiffel Tower (iconic, much?) and Louvre were my favorites. I absolutely loved the Winged Victory at the Louvre. I’m pretty sure I need a full-scale replica of that somewhere at my house.😉

I discovered on this trip that I love croissants. I’ve always thought that I didn’t like them, but I guess I’ve just never had a really good one before. I had some incredible ones both in Greece and in Paris! And speaking of food, I have a story I need to share…

At dinner in Paris I ordered the vegetable soup. The server informed me that they were out of vegetable soup, but that the onion soup was very good. I was a little unsure because I was envisioning a vegetable soup, but with only onions and no other veggies. But it was inexpensive so I thought I’d try it as a starter. When I was served the soup, I exclaimed, “Oh! It’s FRENCH onion soup! I didn’t realize that’s what it was!” Christopher found this absolutely hilarious. We have both laughed about it many times since then. I’m not sure why I didn’t realize it, but obviously we were in France… so all onion soup is French onion soup.😉 The clip of me at the end of the video is from when Christopher was asking me to tell him all about my “onion soup” which is why I’m laughing so much.🙂

I’m so glad we got to spend the day in Paris. It was a fabulous end to our European vacation!🙂


If you’ve been to Paris tell me what you loved about it! 

Have you ever had an experience with ordering food and not realizing what it was until it arrived?

Love Rach

Santorini, Greece

Time Spent in the Santorini: 1.5 days

Where we stayed: We stayed at two places in Santorini because we had to leave Mykonos early to due to a ferry strike. Our hotel in Santorini for the following night didn’t have any availability when we called them the day we found out about the strike. But they recommended the hotel across the street and we were so glad that they did!

Pension: The Flower
Anemomilos Hotel Apartments

Where we ate: 

Thalassia (breakfast)
Anemomilos Restaurant (lunch & dinner)

What we saw/did:

Explored Oia in the morning
Spent the afternoon lazing around at the pool with a view over the sea
Sunset in Oia

Total Steps: 29,976

Miles Walked: 13

Floors Climbed: 112

Overall thoughts: Oia, Santorini was just as beautiful as I expected! Postcard perfect views everywhere you look. However, it can get super crowded and we knew this going into it. So spent the morning exploring Oia and hardly saw other tourists at all (just the locals preparing for the day). By around 11am there were lots more people out so we decided to walk back to our hotel at that point. So here’s the magic… we stayed 5 minutes outside the heart of Oia and because of that it was empty and serene. We spent the afternoon at the pool with a view out over the sea (gorgeous!) and just enjoyed relaxing together after the go-go-go nature of most of this trip.

We did go into Oia for the sunset because we’d heard that it was a can’t-miss experience. And honestly… totally truthfully… don’t hate me for saying this… but it wasn’t the most gorgeous sunset I’ve ever seen. It was beautiful. It really was, but just not the most gorgeous we’ve seen. But even if it was the most gorgeous ever… it was far from romantic since we were out there seeing it with 1,000 of our closest friends.😉 I’m glad we got to see it, but the crowds were just crazy. I can’t imagine how bad it is in peak season. Again, it was beautiful, but the sunset has been just as beautiful on every island, beach, and cruise ship that I’ve ever been on (with cruise ship sunsets probably being the best because they stretch out so far over the open water).

Santorini is iconic so for that I’m glad we went. But honestly I think I liked Mykonos better. The town was cuter (still white & blue!) and it was far less crowded. But I’m glad we got the chance to see two of the islands. If you go visit Oia, I highly recommend going in the morning to see sunrise (I got to see the sunrise from our hotel and it was beautiful!) and to explore the town without getting hit with selfie sticks.😉


If you’ve been to Santorini tell me what you loved about it!

Where is the most beautiful sunset you’ve ever seen? 

Love Rach

Mykonos, Greece

Time Spent in Mykonos: 8.5 hours (originally planned to be here overnight, but there was a ferry strike that required us to leave early… more on that later)

Where we stayed: Bellissimo Resort (this is where we were supposed to stay. I wrote a review for them on TripAdvisor anyway because management was so awesome!)

Where we ate: 

Madoupas Cafe

What we saw/did:

SeaBus (used as transportation between ports)
Agios Ioannis Beach
Little Venice

Total Steps: 13,917

Miles Walked: 6

Floors Climbed: 40

Overall thoughts: Initially we had planned to stay in Mykonos about 24 hours, but when we arrived in Mykonos that morning we went immediately to purchase our ferry tickets to Santorini for the next day. Well… wouldn’t you know… there would be a ferry strike the next two days. And our flight to Paris was leaving Santorini in two days. Which meant that if we didn’t want to miss our flight to Paris we would have to leave Mykonos on the same day we arrived. Initially this was a huge bummer, but we made the most of it (and our hotel was AWESOME with a partial refund despite me booking a nonrefundable room plus letting us use their facilities). By the time we finished our day in Mykonos and caught the last ferry out (at 6:30pm) we really felt like we had a full and fun day there.🙂 Mykonos was beautiful! I don’t know if we’ll be back to the Greek Islands in the future (because as beautiful as they were – there are places equally beautiful and much closer to us in the Caribbean that are far less expensive to travel to), but if we do go back to Greece then I would absolutely return to Mykonos!


If you’ve been to Mykonos tell me what you loved about it! 

Have you ever had a strike interfere with your travel plans? This was a first for us!
Love Rach

Athens, Greece

Today I hope you are prepared for what Christopher calls “The Most Epic Ponytail Ever”. When we decided to try and take more video on this trip than we did last time, I knew that would mean there would be times when Christopher would take candid video of me. What I didn’t realize was how random some of that video footage would be.😉 But it makes me laugh how throwing my hair up in a ponytail suddenly becomes “epic” when you are at an awesome location, it’s super windy, your husband starts panning around you, and you add music. Bada-bing, bada-boom. The most epic ponytail.😉

Time Spent in Athens: 22 hours

Where we stayed: Adonis Hotel 

Where we ate:

Geros Tou Moria (one of the highlights of Athens for us!)

What we saw/did:

Acropolis Hill / Parthenon
Acropolis Museum
National Archaeological Museum
Areopagus / Mars Hill
Ancient Agora

Total Steps: 25,092

Miles Walked: 11

Floors Climbed: 73

Overall thoughts: My overall thoughts on Athens are mixed. The touristy areas close to Acropolis Hill are awesome. Clean, well-lit, and fun. The rest of Athens that we saw was covered in graffiti and had some pretty intense smells. It was also the least friendly city we visited on this trip as far as interactions with the locals went. This really surprised me because I had this idea that Greece would be very open and friendly like Italy. I kind of wonder if it has to do with everything the country is going through economically right now. This is a big part of why we loved our dinner experience at Geros Tou Moria so much – Stefanos made us feel like friends! A refreshing change from our other interactions with the locals.

Visiting the historical parts of Athens was awesome, but I’m glad we were only there one day. I think two would be the most I would have wanted to spend there (just to have a little more time to enjoy the food and dedicate more time at each museum). Not that I dislike Athens by any means (I know it sounds like I do, but I really don’t!). It’s just that there are other places in Europe where I’d rather spend my time. I’m SO glad that we went to Athens. I’ve wanted to visit Acropolis Hill since I was in college. It was an awesome experience! All in all, I’m glad we went for a day to see the highlights.🙂


If you’ve been to the Athens tell me what you loved about it! 

Have you visited a new place and been surprised to find it different than you expected? Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and My Big Fat Greek Wedding ruined me… I think deep down I thought everyone would be dancing and laughing and crying “Opa!” all the time, ha!

Love Rach

Rome, Italy

Oh Rome. Bella Roma. We fell in love with this city 3 years ago and as it turns out, we loved it all over again. It’s one of the few places we feel like we might be willing to leave Memphis for (but no plans to move any time soon!). We love the history and food and vibe of the city. It’s an amazing sort of place and I am already looking forward to our next visit! In case you are curious about our previous visit, here are links to those posts: Bella Roma, Bella Roma {Part Two}Bella Roma {Vow Renewal}, Bella Roma {Vatican City}.

Time Spent in the Rome: 2 days

Where we stayed: Nicolas Inn

Where we ate: 

Pastasciutta (awesome pasta! We ate here twice!)
Alle Carrette (pizza)
Tazzo D’Oro (coffee)
Fonte Della Salute (gelato)
Blue Ice (gelato)

What we saw/did:
(note: some of these reviews are ones I wrote in 2013 and didn’t update since I had nothing major to add)

Roman Forum
Capitoline Hill Museum
Vatican Museums
Sistine Chapel
St. Peter’s Cathedral at Vatican City
St. Paul Outside the Walls Cathedral
Gianicolo Hill Viewpoint
Porta Portese (flea market) 
St. Peter in Chains Church
Trevi Fountain
Piramide Cestia

Total Steps: 61,589

Miles Walked: 27

Floors Climbed: 105

Overall thoughts: We loved being in Rome again! I was a little surprised by the increased security checks and police everywhere, but with all the unrest in Europe lately it makes sense. It didn’t adversely affect our visit in any way, but it was definitely different than last time.

Also, as a fun memory… we got caught in an absolute, torrential downpour while in Rome one evening. Since there’s no metro line to the Pantheon (where we were at the time), our only options to get back to our hotel were to walk (our original plan) or take a taxi/uber. Since we were already soaked (even through our ponchos), we decided we might as well stick to the original plan and just walk it back. So we made that 30 minute walk in closer to 20 by speedwalking through the streets of Rome in the pouring rain. It kind of makes me laugh that we didn’t just get a taxi, but that’s so our “we can totally do this!” attitude, ha!

Oh, and a note on the video… please ignore my terrible tan lines on my back/neck. I had some pretty fierce tan lines on my ankles (from socks) and on my back/chest thanks to hiking in Switzerland without sunscreen (rookie mistake: even if the weather feels perfect and isn’t hot at all, you can still get an awesome tan… but if you don’t want an awful tan-lines be sure to wear sunscreen, ha!). So because my husband loves to film me until I’m laughing and trying to get away from the camera, you get a great shot of my back in this video which includes some pretty awful tan lines, ha!

Anyway, Rome was absolutely wonderful! It was so good to be back in a city we love so much!🙂

2 days in rome.jpg

If you’ve been to the Rome tell me what you loved about it! Or if you’re like a few people we know… what you didn’t like about it. 

Have you ever been caught in rain like that and decided to just walk through it? Or are we the only crazy ones? Ha!  

Have you found yourself with fabulous tan lines like mine because you didn’t think to wear sunscreen on a beautiful day? It’s been nearly a month since we were in Switzerland and those tan lines are still strong! I’m afraid I will now forever have a sock, neck, and chest tan line, haha!

Love Rach

Cinque Terre, Italy

Ah, the Cinque Terre, such a beautiful place! Five beautiful little towns all along Italy’s northwest coast. Watching today’s video back over again evokes so many sweet memories. Both from this visit and our previous one. But I’ll let the video do the talking.🙂

Time Spent in the Cinque Terre: 2.5 days

Where we stayed: 

Apartment with Balcony on the Sea
Attico con Terrazza Sul Mare – 5 Stars!!

We stayed in two different places because by the time we booked a place (2 months before we left) it was difficult to find an affordable place available for our dates with a sea view. We used AirBnB and stayed with the same host (Paolo) in two different rooms. Since he didn’t have a room available for both of our nights he gave us quite a break on price plus he stored our luggage for us in between the rooms. Both were great, but the view from the second room was especially awesome!

Where we ate: 

Il Massimo della Focaccia (favorite focaccia)
Taverna Del Capitano (favorite seafood pasta)
Enoteca Dau Cila
Il Grottino
Il Pirata delle Cinque Terre
Il Pescato Cucinato (fried fish cone)
Mamma Mia (snacks)
Pancifico Rosi (focaccia)
Alberto’s Gelato

What we saw/did:

Explored all 5 towns with the Rick Steves’ town walks
Levanto Beach (just outside the Cinque Terre)
Monterosso Al Mare Beach
Manarola Vineyard Hike (courtesy of Rick Steves)
Vernazza Castle

It had rained a lot before we arrived in the Cinque Terre so the trails were all closed during our time there. A bummer because we loved hiking last time we were here, but we did at least get to do the Manarola Vineyard Hike which was fun!

Total Steps: 52,970

Miles Walked: 23.5

Floors Climbed: 246

Overall thoughts: Oh the Cinque Terre, how we love you! We visited three years ago (blog posts: Beach Day & Hiking) and fell in love with everything about the Cinque Terre. This visit was a little different at first. For one thing, it rained for one afternoon while we were there and had been raining for days before we arrived. Which meant no big hikes this time. We got to do one small hike so that was still fun!

The other major difference was the crowds. There were lots of people here when we visited 3 years ago (especially on the beach), but it was nothing to the hordes of people this time around. The tour groups were unreal. From 10am-5pm it was literally shoulder-to-shoulder shuffling through the main parts of the towns (especially Vernazza which was such a shame because that was my favorite town last time and this time it was awful to walk through). These towns just aren’t equipped for groups like that. Our AirBnB host talked with us about how it’s so sad that these groups come in like this because they aren’t truly getting the Cinque Terre experience. If you are considering visiting the Cinque Terre – I highly recommend doing so on your own instead of with a tour group. The locals will appreciate it!

All in all, we still love the Cinque Terre. It’s still just as gorgeous as it was before and with good weather I think we could spend most of our day-time hiking and avoiding the worst of daytime crowds.


If you’ve been to the Cinque Terre tell me what you loved about it! 

Have you ever returned to a favorite vacation spot and been surprised by changes?
Love Rach

Bernese Oberland, Switzerland

Oh Switzerland, you were beyond amazing. People keep asking which place was our favorite and I struggle to answer that question because we loved Italy just as much as the last time we were there. Plus we saw so many amazing new things and iconic places in many different countries. But if I had to choose the one place that I was most blown away by then it would have to be Switzerland. The views were just totally spectacular. God’s creativity and beauty on full display all around us. I haven’t finished making all the videos for the places we visited on this trip, but I have a feeling that this one will be one of my favorites of them all. I just love all that footage of us hiking in the mountains (and behind the waterfall)!

Time Spent in Switzerland: 2 days

Where we stayed: Hotel Mittaghorn in Gimmelwald (very rustic, but cool! Probably the only time I will ever give 4 stars to a place with community bathrooms, ha!)

Where we ate:

Hotel Edelweiss (twice because it was so great!)
Mountain Hostel Hotel
Hotel Mittaghorn (our hotel) for breakfast

What we saw/did:

Sprutz Waterfall Trail
North Face Trail
Panorama Trail
Flower Trail
Exploring Gimmelwald (town where we stayed)
Exploring Murren (town up the hill)

Total Steps: 48,628

Miles Walked: 22

Floors Climbed: 388 (we walked straight up the side of a mountain at one point!)

Overall thoughts: We were just absolutely blown away by Switzerland. If you think the pictures look unreal, imagine being there. Everything around you just looks too perfect. Like a movie green screen. If it weren’t for the faint “aroma” of manure in some of the places we hiked by I would’ve thought I was dreaming.

It should be noted, that when we were climbing straight up the side of the mountain I had to stop every 20 feet or so to catch my breath because our altitude was so high and apparently I don’t breathe so well in high altitude. But I’d just stop and take 5 deep breaths and we could carry on. Thankfully that was only when we were climbing straight up a mountain. I was fine during normal hiking. Let me tell you, it’s so weird to feel no fatigue in your body and yet not be able to breathe. I would have to stop and would pant trying to catch my breath and yet no part of my body felt tired. So weird! Anyway, only a minor detail and totally worth it for the awesome views.

Also to be noted about Switzerland: everything was so clean including every single public WC we used (this includes in places like train stations which is super impressive to me). And everything (cable cars, buses, trains, etc) ran perfectly on time to the minute (cable car scheduled to leave at 6:33am… and it really did!).

We loved Switzerland. It was absolutely gorgeous! I am excited to go back someday!

2 days in switzerland.jpg

If you’ve been to Switzerland tell me what you loved about it! 

Have you spent time hiking in the mountains? Or walked underneath a waterfall?
Love Rach