Italy Stop #1 – Milan

#Italy #Milan #VincentAdventure

After traveling from the MN airport to O’Hare and hanging out for a few hours, then a few more in Stockholm, we got to Milan around 1 pm local time. Knowing we would have 15 plus hours of travel behind us (and my general crabbiness), we booked a car service to take us from the airport instead of trying to figure out the local trains or buses for the hour transit between the airport and our hotel.

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With the exception of losing my favorite pair of sunglasses (RIP-free-black framed-promo-swag gift glasses), our first bit of travel went without a hitch and we stayed for a few nights at The Yard Hotel in Milan. The Yard is a boutique type of hotel with limited rooms, but a fun atmosphere. They greeted us with a few drinks and we tried our best to look cool after the long trip, but eventually had to go to the room and relax for a while before continuing our adventure.

Italy Travel Tip #1: Don’t order a cappuccino after noon. While delicious and a great pick-up after travel, the wait staff will at minimum roll their eyes, and at maximum outright refuse to serve it. We actually talked to another couple from the U.S. and can confirm they were refused and offered another option. 

Like most major European cities, Milan has an enormous history to it with many stories to tell. Knowing we only had 36 hours to explore, we planned ahead and visited a few key locations based off of Steph’s terrific ability to plan ahead.

Our most well-known stop was the Duomo De Milano, or the Milan Cathedral for us Yanks. This church was under construction for NEARLY 600 years, starting in the 1300’s and finally considered finished in the 1960’s. It is the third largest church in the entire world, and largest in Italy as St. Peter’s Basilica is technically in Vatican City (spoiler: we went there too).

Make sure to check out some of these photos, most specifically the ones of St. Bartholomew and the replica of the Madonna in Bronze. The Madonna is a bronze replica identical to one on the churches spire. It is said that if you gaze upon her you should feel relieved and take that feeling with you the rest of your days.

For those of you not familiar with St. Bartholomew, he was one of Jesus’ apostles who was later flayed (read: skinned alive) and beheaded for spreading Christianity. The wrapping you see on him in this photo, in paintings and on this statue is not, in fact, a robe but his removed skin. You see, he was kinda a bad-ass.

Our second main stop was the Sforza Castle, near the very center of Milan. Built and rebuilt, (and is the theme in Italy) built furthermore on during the 14th and 15th centuries, it is now a civic museum. While much of the museum was fun to see, its most important piece is that of Michelangelo’s final and only recognized unfinished sculpture. It is said he worked on it for the final 10 years of his life until he died in 1564.

The Rondanini Pietà, is a statue of the Virgin Mary holding the body of Jesus done in marble. Having not seen a marble statue unfinished, it was amazing to see all the initial carvings done with a chisel and the uneven marks still throughout the piece. Seeing the difference from the rough texture of the rock to the well buffed and shine of what was complete was an experience. Also, because it was late in the day we didn’t have to wait in line or be blocked by other onlookers, so we could really experience the piece that much more.

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And finally, my favorite piece of art from the whole trip. Nothing speaks to my soul like L.O.V.E.  . You should click the link to learn more, but set directly in the financial district, the subject matter likely does not escape you.

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More posts to come, thanks for reading!

#MNStateFair 2018 Mini Adventure

As per annual tradition, we had to get a quick visit in to the Minnesota State Fair just a week before we go on a full-fledged vacation. As per usual, we had to pause the pre-vacation diet to enjoy the full fledged event that the fair provides.

Unlike last year, I won’t rank or grade all the food, instead I’ll make snarky comments and openly judge what I did or didn’t like about the day. Soooo, just like any other day. 

First of all, we took a vacation day from work to not deal with to much of a crowd, but what also helped thin the crowd was the unavoidable rain we had to endure off and on throughout the day. Not only that, but then it hailed right before we caught the bus from the University of Minnesota park and ride.

Side note: shout out to those people using metro transit when possible. It’s a great alternative and for the fair, it’s a free option in many cases. 

First food up: Fried Pickles

We get these every year for a reason, that reason being that they taste good. The reason we get it first is two-fold; its right by the entrance and I typically haven’t eaten all day before we get there, so I’m super hangry. 

Second food: Papa Pup

For the uninitiated, it’s a giant corn dog on a stick. I was hungry so didn’t really get a picture. If you REALLLLY want to see it, check out last year’s awkward photos

Third up: We enjoyed a beer from the new state fair venue ‘The Hanger’.

The new beer we tried was Cake’d Up Celebration Beer locally brewed by Mankato Brewery. Even Steph enjoyed the flavor, and if you’re into unique flavors, check out this link to see some of the others available this year at the fair.

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Fourth/Fifth/Sixth Foods: Pork Egg Rolls, Bacon Wrapped Shrimp, and Fries with ketchup

Does this count as surf and turf?

Seventh/Eight: Grilled Banana Marshmallow Cream and Chocolate Sandwich (Steph’s perennial favorite) with a S’mores Latte

We get the sandwich every year (along with a sugar buzz), but this year we also enjoyed a hot latte. It was a great pairing and Moe Joe’s is a great little place to make a stop. 

We also found some fun items to bring home; a custom etched metal sign for the basement (if it ever gets finished) and some MPR Raccoon socks. 

(If you don’t know the story about the Raccoon, its well worth the time to find out.)

That’s it for this year, but I’d love to hear from others on what foods they enjoyed this or any other year. Have fun out there! 

Time to get weird in the City of Roses – Portland – July 2018

I’ve been so invested in researching and planning our upcoming trip to Italy, that I realized we never blogged about our getaway to Portland.   One of us had some vacation days to use up before losing them, so we decided to take a quick trip to somewhere new.  We narrowed it down to a few destinations to consider and then picked Portland based on finding the best deal.  Being that Portland is known for great food, breweries and beautiful scenery it definitely checked off a few boxes and we were excited to add another new place to our list of adventures.

Here are the highlights:

Donuts Wars!  We had our own taste test challenge by trying both Blue Star Donuts and Voodoo Donuts.  First up, Blue Star.  This place is great!  There flavors are more creative They were also quite filling since they use a brioche base.  All in all, these were some tasty donuts.

Next stop was Voodoo Donuts.  If you’ve never been here before, be prepared for crazy long lines.   Depending on the time of day, you could easily spend over an hour before even getting to experience the delicious pastry treats. We finally made it there at 10:30PM and still waited 30 minutes.   Now these donuts are creative, colorful, fun and delicious. Nothing too unique when it comes to flavors, but overall a good quality donuts.  Our verdict for this challenge was that we preferred Voodoo due to having more variety to choose from.

Other highlights were a trip to Multnomah Falls, Latourell Falls and Forest Park’s iconic Stone House.  Growing up, and still today, one of my favorite movies is The Goonies, so for me, one of the other highlights was taking a trip out to the coast to see the Haystacks.  “Hey you Guuyys!”

I do want to mention one of the more unique places we went.  McMenamin’s is a restored elementary school that was vacant for years before being converted into a hotel with a movie theater and multiple bars and a restaurant.   If you’re ever in Portland, it’s worth stopping in and just walking through the halls.  All of the classrooms have been converted into hotel rooms, and old school memorabilia and murals still hang on the walls.

Finally there were lots of stops to check out some signs and murals. Overall the trip was fun and we ate lot of great food (Salt and Straw ice cream, Pine State Biscuits, & Breakside Brewery). Until next time…Stay Weird.

 

Where have you been? Where are you going?

We haven’t been on an adventure in 6 months? Six. Damn. Months.

Sorry its been so long, but with being an adult, sometimes life gets in the way. We are about to change that though with this being our 15th year (FIFTEEN!) together we decided to go big another year in a row and visit Italy for 2 weeks in the fall.

And while I don’t have much to share as I am currently pouring over Steph’s vacation activities spreadsheet (jokes about that later),  I am asking for your help.

Yes you.

Have you ever been to Italy? Have you ever looked at Italy on a map, or just looked at the interweb and thought; “I should do some research on the Vatican”? If so, what did you like? Was it the wine, the woman, the canals, the lakes or the European swimming trunks that look damn fine on me? (Mental image provided)

What I am getting at is that we want your advice and ideas. Send them our way and help us out just like we would if you were to visit any of the places we’ve been lucky enough to travel to.venice-2504165_960_720

And if you’ve forgotten where we’ve been to, check out some of our other posts or Vimeo page for our video recaps.

 

Iceland 2017

A few weeks before we left for Australia & Fiji, we saw a deal for Iceland that we just couldn’t pass up. Around $800 round trip? It felt like stealing.

So, weeks after the tropical Fiji islands, we went to Iceland in the beginning of winter where the normal high was around 35 degrees and the ‘feels like’ was MUCH lower.

Instead of bombarding you with dozens of picture posts, Steph put this video together.

Queensland Visit Recap – 1st Stop!

#travelblog #vincentadventure #Australia #queensland

Hit the link below for more photos.

This being our second time in Australia, we decided to take nearly 3 weeks and cram all the things we didn’t do the first time. So what did we do first? We went back to a place we’ve already been.

If you ever get the chance, visit Queensland.

  • Its tropical and beach-y
  • has friendly people
  • if you get up early on the coast – you get to see the sun rise over the water in such a way that no photo could ever capture fully

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Within the rain forest they also have a skyrail that allows you to travel through it from 100-plus meters overhead. My wife somehow talked me into doing it, but at least we didn’t take the gondola with a glass bottom. I might have peed from fear.

There are also stops along the way where you transfer from skyrail gondola to gondola, but can take mini walks through the rain forest. It’s a protected land for miles around that provides views of nearly the entire forest.

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This is how you celebrate a good first stop on a vacation. 

We also stopped by a crocodile farm home to nearly 3,000 salties and other varieties. It was also essentially a full zoo with a number of protected birds, snakes and other wildlife. Some of the features included a Crock Attack show and a boat ride where the host fed some hostile salties from the side of the boat.

Oh yeah, we got – and we got to pet Koalas.

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Living on Fiji time

Bula! Fiji…what can I say? 


(Hit the link below for many more pictures)

Beautiful sunsets, FRIENDLY people, and amazingly clear turquoise water. This part of our trip has been all about relaxing and enjoying the views and “no schedule”. We purposely didn’t plan a single thing to do while in Fiji and decided to just soak up the sun and let the day decide what we wanted to do.


We are wrapping up our 5th day in Fiji on the island of Tokoriki which is part of the Mamanuca islands, about an hour boat ride from the main island. So far we’ve spent most of our time at the pool and snorkeling. The reef right off the beach was destroyed when the cyclone hit this island in 2016 so in order to get out past the damage you get towed out on the back of a jet ski. The water was so blue and clear And filled with vibrant color fish and coral. I even managed to see an octopus and small reef shark. 
The other activity we decided to do was to tour around the island on a jet ski. This was my first time being on a jet ski so I was a bit nervous. The water was a bit choppy that afternoon but overall really fun and awesome to see views of the entire island and others near by.