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Archive for March, 2013

There is no surer bond of friendship than an identity of community of ideas and tastes. ~ Cicero

Taste ‘Buds’

Me & Tara stopping for a pretzel during the wedding day shoot..It was a joke but very much our character to do so!

Me & Tara stopping for a pretzel during the wedding day shoot..It was a joke but very much our character to do so!

If you are passionate about many things it’s highly likely that you keep company with similarly passionate people.  I know just who to call when I want to go out for an adventurous meal, a 90 minute yoga class, or find the ‘perfect’ outfit.  And if you’re lucky like I am – you have that one friend who is always up for anything, really…anything!

This post is dedicated to just that person!  My lovely and beautiful friend, Tara.  She is truly the epitome of a girl’s best friend.  She’s one of those people who are just so genuine, kind, and loving that it doesn’t seem humanly possible.  She is purely kind-hearted and thoughtful, a self-sacrificing person – the last being her only downfall in that she sometimes puts others before her when she should come first.

If that makes her sound saintly, then here’s the rest to reassure you that she is human just like the rest of us.  Tara is also that crazy fun friend that you find yourself having boatloads of margaritas, martinis, whiskey, wine, or really any interesting concoctions until 3am.  French dining at 4am.  Hours in dressing rooms and buying nothing.  Random shots of olive oil and salt while searching for diet Coke in a sea of diet Pepsi.  Tomato browsing.  Midnight plunges into the ocean.  Bubble gum as shoe glue.  Pantyhose as leggings…

I could go on but then I’m missing the point of this post.  Tara not only is my best friend but she is also one damn good taste ‘bud’.

The Chew

The week of my wedding, Tara got us tickets to ABC’s show, The Chew.  To be honest, until she told me we were going together, I had never heard of it.  But from a quick google search and some DVR’ing, I caught myself up on what to expect.  The two of us love food!  We could talk about food for hours.  It’s kind of bizarre how excited we get just describing things we have eaten or want to eat.  So this show was a perfect fit for us…and a very sweet gift for a kick off before the final days leading to my wedding.

I am on the left behind Mario's head and Tara is on the right...

I am on the left behind Mario’s head and Tara is on the right…

The Chew is hosted by Iron Chef America’s Mario Batali and Michael Symon, Top Chef’s Carla Hall, What Not to Wear’s Clinton Kelly (who introduces the guests and welcomes everyone to the show) and Dr. Mehmet Oz’s daughter, author and wellness enthusiast Daphne Oz.  I was most excited to see Clinton Kelly in person…I actually told him I wanted to miniaturize him and put him in my back pocket to keep with me everywhere I go.  I immediately realized how psychotic that sounded and was thankful that he laughed without being creeped out.

As you can see from the above photograph (taken by my very kind friend, Kat, who sat through the whole show just to see a few glimpses of us at the end of the hour) we were invited to sit at the tasting table.  I believe we shrieked and did a few fist pumps as a reply…yep, we were that lame but it was all we could talk about on the way there and we were chosen!  This episode was themed, “Battle of the Iron Grandmas”…check out the four-minute clip, we are featured quite a bit in this segment since we are behind Mama T. & Mario.

So the show can seem quite a bit corny at times and really isn’t one that I would regularly add to my DVR line-up but it was truly a fun experience and I’m so happy I got to share it with Tara.  What an unforgettable time and a brilliant way to start the final countdown to my wedding.

Behind the Scenes

Almost showtime!

Almost showtime!

Waiting for Mario's lobster rolls at the tasting table!

Waiting for Mario’s lobster rolls at the tasting table!

Top Chef Carla interacts with the audience after the show

Top Chef Carla interacts with the audience after the show

Clinton Kelly is just as sweet and adorable in person as he appears on television

Clinton Kelly is just as sweet and adorable in person as he appears on television

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To the complaint, ‘There are no people in these photographs,’ I respond, there are always two people: the photographer and the viewer.  ― Ansel Adams

ZAGREB, CROATIA

July 27 – 29, 2012

Plitvice Lakes National Park

Plitvice Lakes National Park

Final Days of our Honeymoon

After almost two weeks of traveling through Eastern Europe, we still wanted more…  We left the Island of Vis with sad hearts.  We were having too much fun to leave – the journey to the next city is always exciting; unless it’s your last.  We spent a day of travel by taxi, ferry, and train, finally arriving in Zagreb exhausted.  The last destination on our honeymoon.  We would only have one full day to explore the city.  So we set out for some beers and snacks to get us through what was left of the evening and to plan how we would spend the following day.

Hotel Dubrovnik

After beers were consumed and plans were sort of made (nothing is ever set in stone for us) we went to check in for the night.  We were staying at Hotel Dubrovnik near Jelacic Square.  This hotel lacked personality, was quite unattractive inside and out but the location and price made it an excellent choice.  We didn’t get to explore much with our limited time so staying in a vibrant, easily accessible area was key.

A Day in Zagreb

What do you plan when you have 24 hours to see a city?  After looking over our options the night before, we decided we would opt to spend most of our day in Zagreb actually outside of Zagreb…it was the best decision possible.

After waking and grabbing a quick coffee we went straight to the tourist information center in Jelacic Square.  Really, the last stop I thought we would be making but we had no choice.  We wanted to go to Plitvice Lakes National Park and considering it was several hours of a drive away and after 9am we knew we were going to need help in getting there quickly.  Once we arrived we immediately found out that we were too late for the tour to the park.  It leaves quite early and we missed it by at least an hour or more.

Remembering our lesson from earlier in our trip, Jonathan decided to ask for details in how to get a private tour guide to take us there and back as well as take us through the park.  I sat back thinking this was a crazy request.  But to my surprise – we had a deal.  The local tourism office found an English-speaking guide, a car and driver and to top it off – a decent price, not much more than a group tour on a bus.  Our guide and driver would be ready for us within 90 minutes so we had some time to spare.

Dolac Market

Wish I could say we knew about this market but we didn’t.  It just happened to be right off the main square.  We needed to find something to pack for lunch for our trip and we stumbled upon this place by accident.   How did we not know about this?  It was true luck.  Jonathan and I love going to markets, especially in other countries.  Markets are a great way to learn about the local people and to better understand their cuisine.

Dolac market is a must see if you are in Zagreb.  It is over eighty years old and had all that you could wish for in a market.  If you move from the main square towards the market you first encounter flowers and plants of all kinds.  From there you go up the steps to a huge space where in the center there is a bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables, really too large to see from standing in one spot.  Surrounding the middle are cheese and cream vendors and little stands selling quick, affordable lunches.  Below all of this is where you will find fishmongers and butchers.

We pick up our lunch here.  Some bread, lots of cheese and fruit.

Flower vendors leading up to the main area of Dolac Market

Flower vendors leading up to the main area of Dolac Market

Jonathan buying fruit for our lunch

Jonathan buying fruit

Fresh dairy!  A cheese centered lunch...yum

Fresh dairy! A cheese centered lunch…yum

Notice all the red umbrellas at the market…we later found out from our tour guide that there is a reason why they are red and the story is a romantic one.  Of course I was all ears, these are little tidbits that I love to hear.  I’m no historian so here’s my abbreviated version of this story:  boy loves girl, kisses girl in rain, black umbrella turns red, there is a rainbow, suddenly a red umbrella is a symbol of love, a Zagreb souvenir is born.  Awwww, so sweet.  Don’t bring an umbrella to Zagreb.  Buy one here.  Maybe you will get hit by this lucky love bug!

Another 45 minutes to spare.  We meet our tour guide, pay up and then head out for coffee and a walk in the Zrinjevac until our driver arrives.

Walking around in Zrinjevac - a mini park near the main square

Walking around in Zrinjevac – a mini park near the main square

Plitvice Lakes National Park

I’m easily enthralled by large furry animals, extraordinary acts of kindness, charming old men, people with unfathomable talents, and stunning panoramic views of nature.  Ok…that was a bit much but so true, if you know me well, all of the above just crumbles my senses in so many ways, often making me cry or taking my breath away.  The last in that list is what is relevent here.  Plitvice Lakes National Park seriously was the most beautiful place I have ever seen.  I was seriously captivated by mother nature herself.  Left breathless and complete serene, so much so that I could have toured the entire park in silence…except that every few minutes with visual sense in overload, I found myself smiling and uttering how beautiful every inch of the park was then back to silence again..

Plitvice Lakes deserves a post of its own.  So I give you a link to satisfy your curiosity now along with a few teaser photos until I dedicate a page to this tour only.  http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/98

Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

Plitvice is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is protected and preserved

Plitvice is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is protected and preserved

Awww.....the Honeymooners!

I am blessed to have the life that I do.  I am beyond grateful for the man I now call my husband.  Our journey started over 13 years ago but it truly feels like we are just getting started.

This was the last day of our honeymoon.  As much as I would like to keep the honeymoon tale going I will close here.  Some things are meant to be shared but the most precious moments  are left to be savored by those who hold the memories.  I look forward to recounting future travels and our big moments as they come but as for our last evening…it’s simply that – ours.

Croatia is for Lovers

I can’t say it enough.  Croatia is for lovers.  Go there with someone you love.  Delight in every moment, relax in the sun and by the sea, spend your evenings with a great glass of Croatian wine, fresh seafood and good conversation. 

Honeymoon Itinerary Recap

For a more in-depth summary of our trip go here.  You can find details of where we stayed, our little adventures and our favorites spots in each location.

  1. Czech Republic: Prague – 3 nights
  2. Hungary:  Budapest – 4 nights
  3. Croatia:  3 destinations – 7 nights (Split, Vis, Zagreb)

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