As I predicted in my last post, I was completely swamped during the last weeks of December to write much, but now it’s the new year and I am committed! Especially since I’ve recently found out that quite a few people back home are actually reading the blog to keep up with all the stuff we do, so I can’t let them down!
2013 was a huge year for us (and, when I really think about it, possibly one of the most action-packed years of my life), so I think I owe it to 2013 to do a recap post of our year:
Coming back from Miami after the holidays and newly married, Jaime and I skipped an immediate honeymoon (postponing it for an Italian adventure instead) and used the month of January to tie up loose ends of our life in Ohio in preparation for our big overseas move. My first car was sold (I almost teared up about it too), we decided what furniture was moving with us, and I decided to write a blog documenting all of our adventures for the next few years!
Jaime and I both said goodbye to our respective jobs (in my case it had also been my first job, but, unlike with my cars, no tears were shed there) and we said goodbye to our friends and neighbors. Five packed suitcases, a dog and a dog crate later, we were stuffed into our car and road tripping to Washington, D.C., where we got to spend the next six months taking Italian language classes. With the excitement of being in a new city, we wasted no time in beginning to sightsee, visiting the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum and George Washington’s home at Mount Vernon in the first weekend! I also wrote my first blog post, which you can check out here.
In March, we were ankle-deep in Italian and sightseeing at full speed ahead. It was way too cold for a March in my opinion and we had to road trip back to Ohio (an 8 hour trip in the middle of the night, both of us with terrible colds) to have our furniture packed and shipped by movers. We went to the National Archives, Arlington Cemetery, and the Smithsonian Museum of American History, which you can read about here and here. Jaime’s parents came to visit us Easter weekend, bringing with them some of my favorite Miami food staples.
April was a big one for us. The weather finally, slowly, starting warming up and this Miami native couldn’t be happier. The month started with a bang as we scored some last-minute tickets to the Maroon 5 concert in D.C. and it was AMAZING :). My mom and stepdad came to visit mid-April and they got to experience D.C.’s cherry blossoms (even though they had been forecasted to reach their peak about two weeks before). Arya also turned 1 and I made her a doggy birthday cake! Post and recipe here and post about where we went sightseeing here.
In May, we got to see the European Union Embassy Open House. I didn’t write a post about this, but this is an event I highly recommend if you happen to be in Washington D.C. during this time. Every Saturday for a period of about 3 weeks, different Embassies in Embassy Row open to the public and hold events with traditional food, music, and partying. Since we were busy soaking up every ounce of Italian culture we could, we obviously went on the European Union week. The Italian Embassy was one of the most popular (meaning there was a huge line to get in) and they had Ferraris and Lamborghini’s parked outside, high fashion items on display inside, and some Italian coffee and pizza. Because of the huge lines for each embassy , we only had time to go to the UK Embassy (they had nice cars outside too) and finished the day at the Spanish Embassy, where they had a full-blown house party with sangria, paella, and empanadas. Our favorites were the Spanish and Italian embassies, but I also heard the German Embassy had a pretty cool showcase. For more information on this event, check out their website. It still hasn’t been updated with the dates for this year, but you can get an idea of what to expect.
At the end of the month, we headed to Arlington Cemetery for the annual Flags In event for Memorial Day. During Flags In you’ll see Army soldier volunteering to spend the day placing American flags in front of every single tomb. This was a very moving and sobering experience, which I wrote a small post about here.
This month I was determined to get some sun at whatever price. It was still not completely warm enough for a Miami girl, but the first weekend of the month we headed out to Assateague Island National Seashore in Maryland to go to a dog-friendly beach. We were slightly disappointed, as it was a very long drive for a windy day and freezing water, and we almost weren’t allowed to bring Arya into the beach (post can be found here). This month we also took our first tour of the United States’ Capitol (we ended up doing at least three more tours during our six months in D.C., so I have had just about enough of the Capitol to last me a lifetime). We also had the opportunity to enjoy some fine Virginia wine at Hillsborough Vineyards in Virginia, which was an great experience.
The best part of this month, however, was our very first trip to NEW YORK CITY! I don’t even have to summarize NYC. Anything and everything you need to know about our trip can be found in my extensive blog post here.
July was one of my favorite months of the entire year. Jaime’s siblings came to visit during the first week and we had a blast, despite the sibling bickering that obviously happened. We got to spend 4th of July in D.C. and were slightly underwhelmed by the National Mall fireworks. We went on a canoe ride in the Potomac, attended parades and shows by pretty much every branch of the U.S. Military throughout the month and discovered a Cuban Restaurant in D.C.! My best friend, Lauren, also had the chance to visit us for the weekend and we went to Colonial Williamsburg with her.
August was our last month in Washington and almost entirely focused on our upcoming move to Italy. It was finally happening! We wrapped up our Italian course, spent two days taking listening, reading, and speaking tests, and tried to squeeze in the last few last minute sights we hadn’t yet been to in Washington (there weren’t many). We went to Thomas Jefferson’s estate, Monticello, visited the Pentagon, the Supreme Court, and the Newseum (one of the few museums that you actually have to pay an entrance fee in D.C., but it was also my favorite so I thought it was definitely worth the price). And then, just like that, our time in Washington came to an end and we packed our five suitcases yet again and got on a one-way direct flight to Rome on August 20th. For the full post on our flight, check it out here.
Staying true to form, our first week in Rome we wasted no time in visiting the major sites: the Pantheon, the Colosseum & the Roman Forum, St. Peter’s, and Castel Sant’Angelo, all before the 1st of September!
The most important month of the year because it’s my BIRTHDAY! Just kidding, it turned out to be one of the most stressful months because of the tedious process that is house hunting in Italy. September was basically the month where the thrill of the last few months finally died and life slapped us with a big dose of a reality check. House hunting was a nightmare, getting the Permesso di Soggiorno was a nightmare, and there were a lot of tears of frustration on my part.
On the bright side, we did end up going to Bau Beach (actually a much better beach experience than our Maryland one) on one of the last weekends of summer, which was an actual dog beach and Arya had a blast. We also visited a bunch of churches (see here, here, and here).
October is another one of those important birthday months, with Jaime’s right at the start. We got to go to the Vatican Museums on the last weekend of September, first of October for free (see how here). We also saw one of the Sunday Angelus’s in St. Peter’s Square (which I have yet to write about -_-) and visit the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, which we learned that, contrary to popular belief, is actually the most important church in Rome.
Our search for an apartment also continued, with two apartment contracts falling through, and us moving through different vacation homes every two weeks (with those dreaded five suitcases and a dog crate). Finally, at the end of this month, though, we signed a contract but were not able to move in until the 15th of November.
The first weekend of November we spent five wonderful days in Turin, up north near Milan (my favorite city in Italy as of now, even though it is not one of the popular tourist destinations). After this, it was a month of settling in, as we finally got our furniture and our car and the keys to our apartment! We visited the Porta di Roma Shopping Mall, finally, and I was beyond ecstatic to find an actual huge supermarket called Auchen, instead of the tiny Despar’s we had been living off of. We also spent a quiet Thanksgiving at home, our first married and in Rome (Giada de Laurentiis totally saved my life with her Italian spin on traditional American Thanksgiving dishes).
Finally, we came to the end of the year, which was CRAZY. The first weekend we took a day trip to Naples, the second weekend we spent it in Assisi, and then we took off to Miami for nine days. As much as Italy is beautiful, I must say that I was so happy when I entered Newark and saw the huge American flag with the Welcome to the United States sign (Jaime says I’m one of these cheesy overly-patriotic people). Even better than that was getting to Miami and being welcomed by almost everyone in the airport speaking in Spanish, and endless amounts of home cooked Cuban food. I died and went to heaven.
On the 21st of December it was also our first wedding anniversary! So of course we spent a romantic evening together and then got together with our parents to cut our year-old top of the wedding cake (does anyone else do this? I figured I’ll only get married once, so might as well pack just about every tradition and superstition as I possibly can).
When we returned, we found out we had tickets to attend the New Years Eve Mass at the Vatican…given by Pope Francis. Talk about feeling VIP. 😉
So there you have it: a round up of Jaime, Beatriz, and Arya’s (whose been with us through all of this craziness) 2013. Especially over the last two months, what with settling in, I haven’t been able to write about all the places we’ve gone, but it is all about to change within the next week or two. Especially since we’re starting off this year strong with two upcoming trips in January & February! Bonus points if you can guess where ;). Til next time!