Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Trip to Rome

When my family was here back in June we took the train to Rome and spent one night. Last time Clark and I went to Rome we went one day and came back the same day and spent 12 hours wandering around the city. It was a lot. So this time we definitely wanted to stay the night and my family wanted to make sure to get the most out of their trip to Rome. The second day we were there we spent the morning at St. Peter's Basilica which I already did a post on and then my mom and little brother headed to the vatican museum. This post is all about the first day we were in Rome.
The first thing we did once we arrive by train station to Rome was catch a cab to the Colosseum. We took the fast train from Naples to Rome and it's about a 55 minute trip. Unfortunately, for us a lot of the Italian public transportation was on strike the day we went which meant the metro was not running but what is fortunate is here in Italy they schedule strikes well in advance and give people the heads up so we were prepared. We took a tour of the colosseum and got to go out on the gladiator floor which is a new feature. We wanted to do the underground tour but it was sold out but this tour was really good too. We booked it through City Wonders and highly recommend it, our tour guide was very good and informative as well. Last time Clark and I went to Rome we didn't do the Colosseum tour so it was fun to do it this time. We were told you can't conquer Rome in a day so we didn't try on our first visit haha.
After the Colosseum, we explored the Roman Forum a little bit on our own which was fun. Then we got tickets for the hop on hop off bus and made our way around the town to check into our hotel. We stayed at Charming Nuova. We needed enough space for 4 adults so this was a really good option. There was no AC which wasn't the best but it was a good hotel in a good neighborhood. It was very close to Piazza Nuova and about a million gelato shops. We also hit up the Pantheon and got in right before closing time, lucky us. 
We then got back on the hop on hop off bus and made sure to see the Spanish steps, Trajans column, where Julius Caesar died which is now the home to 157 cats, and lots and lots of fountains. Luckily when we visited in June all the fountains were still running. I heard that the last few weeks they have shut them off because of the drought that is happening in Italy. I think at some point on the bus we each had fallen asleep. See pictures below, haha. We also used the company Big Bus Tours and just bought the tickets when we boarded the bus. This tour company had the best reviews for hop on hop off experience. The first time Clark and I went to Rome we used the company City Sightseeing bus and we thought it was just fine. 
Another must see was the Trevi Fountain, of course. We saw it on our first visit to Rome but it never disappoints so we went back. It is so massive and amazing. Go through a coin in it and make a wish and hope that an Italian pop star thinks you are his singing partner alla The Lizzie McGuire movie. My little brother had never seen that movie so once we got home we watched it and he thought it was so cheesy haha. Clark and I were like this is our childhood!!! I think it came out when we were around 11 or 12 years olds. 
love, Carlee
Tank top: Old Navy
Leggings: Nike
Nike Shoes: Famous Footwear
Purse: JCPennys

Monday, August 7, 2017

Knox's 4th birthday + dog cake recipe

I need to give a giant shoutout to my favorite dog Knox! We celebrated his 4th birthday on August 1st. He was born on August 1, 2013 and we got him on October 4, 2013. I love celebrating his birthday every year even though he probably has no idea what is going on. He does get excited about a yummy treat and a couple new toys. He really is such a sweet dog. I wish he wanted to cuddle more and come up on the bed with us sometimes. But he is really independent. I love how excited he gets when we get home. We could be gone 4 hours or 10 minutes and he is always very excited to see us. So sweet. 

Dog Cake Recipe

1/2 cup dry dog food
1/4 cup hot water
1 cup applesauce
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1/2 cup quick oats
1/2 cup coconut flour

2 over ripe bananas
1/2 cup peanut butter

1. Mash up dry dog food into little pieces. 2. Poor hot water into crushed up dog food and let soften. 3. Mix in applesauce, egg, peanut butter, oats, and flour. 4. Stir really well. 5. Bake in oven on 350 degrees for 17-20 minutes. 6. For topping mash up ripe bananas and stir in peanut butter really well. 7. Let the cake cool completely before putting the frosting (topping) on the cake. 

Note: I used a bread pan for one of the cakes and cut in into four pieces and layered the cake with the frosting in between each layer. You can also use a cupcake tin or regular cake pan. 

Another note: The recipe makes about 4-5 cupcake size cakes. 

It should also be noted that Knox really has to be coxed in order for him to smile for the camera so you are seeing about 6 of the photos that Knox is actually smiling for. The other 100 photos I took of him look like this:
Let me know if you have any questions about the recipe. Knox absolutely loved his cake. Of course, I didn't let him eat it all in one sitting. I let him eat about 1/4 of the cake and I put the rest of the cake in the fridge for later. 
love, Carlee

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Malbork Castle

 This was probably my favorite stop on our trip. I actually didn't know about this castle until I got a book from the library about Poland. All my googling and pinteresting about northern Poland or gdansk nothing came up. So I am very glad I picked up the book at the library. The malbork castle is actually the biggest castle in the world! Some people don't want to believe it because it's not the tallest in size but it is the largest in land mass and definitely the largest brick castle in the world so very cool. 
It was raining the day we explored the castle but since it was our last day on the trip we knew we had to go raining or not. Luckily we brought our rain jackets on the trip so we were all set. We got to the main enterances visitors center and the line was really long for tickets but there was a kiosk to buy tickets to so I got in the kiosk line and clark got in the regular line. I ended up getting the tickets first and then we went to get our audio guides. There is only two options for tickets either with an audio guide or a guided tour. It kind of makes since because the castle is so huge that you really would have no idea where to do or what your looking at if you didn't have some sort of guide. 
The audio guide was amazing and very well done. It actually had a gps in it so when you moved from location to location or from room to room it knew where you were and would start telling you about that. It also told you where to go next. We followed it pretty closely. I think a couple of the rooms we skipped out a little early but other than that it was so interesting that we definitely were glad to keep listening. 
We also learned that there is a place to buy tickets once inside the castle walls so you don't have to buy tickets at the visitors center on the main side. Just an FYI. There was no line at the ticket stand inside the castle. But we didn't know.

The Malbork castle was severely destroyed in WWII and they actually just finished all the reconstruction snd restoration in 2016 so this is the first year you can see it in all its original glory again so that was very exciting. It is also a world heritage site. 
There was so many cool rooms to explore and so many churches, chapels, kitchens, cafeterias, all within one castle. Im sure if you lived in the olden days you could be in the castle for months and months and never even leave. Another thing we loved about the audio guide was that we got to go in these little rooms and there secret doors. I told clark that if we didn't have the audio guide there is no way we would have known about some of the areas and passageways.
You can climb up to the very top of the highest watchtower. It was a little extra money. 8 zloty a person which is about $2.20 USD so for us it was worth it. We had come that far we might as well go all the way to the top as well. The climb to the top was a lot but the view was worth it. We got an amazing 360 degree view of the grounds and the town of Malbork. The castle was seriously one of our favorite things we did on the whole trip. I think I loved it so much because of how well organized it all was and we got so much information about the castle. It was really very cool.
We then went back to Elblag, Poland which is there we stayed the last night of our trip and we went to this little cafe to get dessert and there was a super friendly cat that came and sat on our laps. I had to snap a photo haha. 
This is my last post from our Poland, Lithuania, Latvia trip. I am so glad that I got them all up within about a week. I am trying to stay caught up on posting. 
love, Carlee

Rain jacket: North Face
Leggings: Nike
Nike Shoes: Amazon