Lonely Goatherd

We didn’t get any souvenirs in Salzburg – looking back, I am not sure why.  Sure it was all super touristy and Sound of Music-y, but why did we let that stop us??  We love the Sound of Music!

Well, in case you were feeling sad for me (and I’m guessing you were – I always feel bad for my friends who take glamorous European vacations) you don’t need to feel sad anymore.

On Friday, my mom surprised me with a gift from my Aunt Laurie.  I had put in a delicious coffee request – I’m fairly certain that outside of Antigua, Fergus Falls has the BEST coffee in the world.  But this gift bag was too light to be coffee beans.

Nope, it wasn’t.  It was the most ridiculous/awesome gift – a fluffy goat puppet that sings (in its ridiculous goat-voice) the marionette song from the Sound of Music.  It might not be from Salzburg, but it will for surely always remind me of that beautiful city.

high on a hill was a lonely goatherd...

Thanks, Laurie!  Perhaps I should be concerned that you thought of me when you saw this puppet, but I’m just going to embrace it (but not too tightly because I don’t want it to start singing again…)

p.s.  Amber tells me she is building a puppet theater and she promises me a starring role.

p.p.s.  This may not actually be true.  I may have misheard her, but I will hold out hope that she’ll be inspired by my lack of listening skills and start writing her puppet script soon!

p.p.p.s. I have a feeling this goat may find a nice home in my kindergarten classroom – out of the children’s reach of course 😉

It’s not purple, but it’s still pretty delish

When I was in Okinawa, my friend Amanda, who is a full time missionary over there with her adorable family, introduced me to Ube ice cream.  Okinawans love their sweet potato -but it is an awesome purple sweet potato – different than a Minnesota sweet potato (which I currently can’t decided if I have ever tried.  I think maybe I have?  Anyways, I digress.)  Ube Ice Cream is Japanese Sweet Potato ice cream.  It is delicious, and surprisingly enough is best compared to Cold Stone’s Cake Batter ice cream.

purple ube ice cream!

 While I would prefer to just fly back to Okinawa and, among other things enjoy some Ube Ice Cream, it isn’t so much an option.  So, I did the next best thing, and made some cake batter ice cream at home.

I always forget I have an ice cream maker.  I should really work on remembering that, because it is always so tasty when I think to use it.  This week I decided to pull it out and let the good times roll.  I used this recipe from allrecipes.com.  To make it, I even got a candy thermometer! (now I won’t just ignore all recipes that include a temperature)  It was pretty simple and painless.  The only pain is patience.  Because I like to do things at the last minute, and because I am not always the most patient person, I definitely served it to company while it was still a bit on soupy side of soft serve consistency.  It was still delicious, but it was WAY better today after it was given some time to freeze.  Sorry about that, Kari!  Thanks for still eating it!  And thanks for your suggestion to mix in Twix.  It was for sure the right choice.

I followed the suggestion of the first comment on the recipe, and added one cup of yellow cake mix, rather than 3/4 C of white cake mix.  Other than that I followed the recipe as shown!  

When I was trying to decide what ice cream to make, I got a lot of great flavor suggestions from friends.  Their list included:

  1. Amaretto Almondclick here for the recipe.  It comes tested and approved by my amazing baker-aunt, so even though I don’t really know what the taste of amaretto is, I’m sure it is great!
  2. Salted Caramel with Chocolate – yum.
  3. Chocolate and bacon – this scares me a bit, but I think if someone else made it, I would be a risk taker and try it.
  4. Octopus Ice Cream – ok, if the bacon ice cream scared me a little, this scares me a lot.  I think if I’m going with Japanese flavors, I’ll stick to my ube 😉
  5. Mint Oreo – delish!
  6. Mint Choc Chip – my all time favorite
  7. Chocolate covered strawberry – sounds amazing.  and fancy! 

And of course, I will share my valuable kitchen insights with you.

Insight 1: Freeze the bowl for the ice cream maker.  I did not do this last time I wanted to make ice cream and it was sad.  Things are much happier when you are like a boyscout: always prepared.

Insight 2: Stir everywhere, even next to your clip-on thermometer.  Otherwise you may have the beginnings of a cake baking in the corner of your saucepan.

Insight 3: Use your ice cream maker more than once in a blue moon.

Insight 4: Even though cake batter ice cream is not purple, it is still pretty delish

Let me know if you have any more flavor suggestions, or if you have a great recipe for me!

Strawberries Part 2: if only these umbrellas were bigger

In the spirit of warming houses, specifically once again my brother and sister-in-law’s new home, I woke up one morning, just before their party, and thought to myself, “I could bake some cupcakes”.  So I did.

I emailed Rachel a couple options that sounded good to me, and she picked Strawberry Lemonade cupcakes.  She chose well. 

Not only were they so fresh and delicious and light tasting, they also gave me the perfect opportunity to use these darling cupcake liners I got for my birthday. AND they went well with my unintentional, yet awesome, strawberry theme of the week.

My roommate is my unofficial taste-tester, and she said these are her favorite cupcakes I’ve made yet.  Think of summer.  That is what these cupcakes taste like.  

They are a lemon cupcake with fresh cut up strawberries folded into the batter.  After you bake these cupcakes, you poke holes in them and drizzle a little lemonade syrup onto the cake.  This ensures a perfectly moist cake with a perfectly sweet lemon taste.  The frosting is a strawberry cream cheese frosting. Speaking of the frosting, I had tons left over, so this afternoon I spread it on cinnamon graham crackers for a little snack.  Delish.

Apparently my new thing is making half the recipe normal cupcakes and half the recipe as mini cupcakes.  Sometimes a whole cupcake is just a big commitment, you know?  And the mini ones are so darn cute.  

I topped these guys with lemon slices and tiny umbrellas.  When I arrived at the housewarming party, arms loaded down with cupcake carriers, I was a bit sad at the small size of the umbrella decorations, because it had just started raining.  So many umbrellas so close, yet so unusable to protect me from the rain. 

I would highly recommend these cupcakes.  Not only are they adorable, but they were delicious.  I have one left sitting in my fridge.  Feel free to come over and eat it!  As usual, my recipe comes from the cupcake queen at Annie’s Eats.  Click here for the recipe.

They are so good that some friends took a bite, then decided that I will someday be that mom on the block who all the neighborhood kids want to come hang out at my house.  I can’t wait!

Strawberries Part 1: the world is amazing

My brother and sister-in-law had a housewarming party this past weekend, and to help with the warming of their house, I baked a couple of treats.  Apparently I really think that strawberries=summer, because that was the theme of my baking efforts.

Item Number 1: Cake Pops!  

I hadn’t ever made cake pops before, but I have made cupcake bites, which are like cake pops, but you use a mold and no stick.  Either way, the credit is due for both recipes to Bakerella.

Because I have nothing better to do with my time this summer, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to test the Cake Pop Waters.  This inkling was confirmed when I was flipping through Bakerella’s Cake Pops book at Target, and saw her idea for these cute strawberry cake pops.  They seemed pretty simple in comparison to some of her more intricately creative ideas, so I said to myself, “remember that” and I did.  

While this delicious project did take most of the day, it was pretty simple work.  In fact, it was a lot easier than I was anticipating.  Here are some tips:

  • When you are putting the stick into the strawberry, make sure you poke it into the tiny end of the strawberry shape.  Otherwise you will dip it in the melting chocolate, set it up to cool, go to add the green leaves to the top of it, and be really confused that the leaves don’t fit on anywhere, because your strawberry is upside down.
  • If you are using a marker to draw the dots, use one with edible ink, not a sharpie (I did not make this mistake, but people seemed concerned that I had done this).  Also, if at first the ink doesn’t flow from the tip of your marker, try scribbling on a paper towel until it comes out nicely.  Don’t just try and use the sides of the marker instead because that will add 5 years to the project length, and not look as great.  Although, let’s be honest.  If you draw dots on your baked goods – people aren’t judging the quality of the dot, they are just impressed you drew the dots at all.
  • If you are thinking of throwing a couple in a ziplock and putting this ziplock into your purse to bring them to the Twins game, think again.  Or at least think to yourself, “I should be careful with these, because if I just shove them in, they will probably break apart under the pressure and I will be forced to eat ugly little chunks of deliciousness out of a baggie in a public setting” 

The cake pops got rave reviews.  People said things like, “Yum!”  “These are delicious!”  “How did I already finish it?  I thought I had another bite!” and “How many can I eat in one sitting?”

In fact, these cake pops turned into my first baked good item that I’ve ever sold.  I am really moving up in the world of baking. I shared some with my friends at their garage sale, and my four favorite children enjoyed them so much they decided to pay me for the delicious treats.  They paid me out of their lemonade stand money, of which the profits were being carefully counted and tabulated throughout the day to earn enough money for a toy.  Keep your eye on the prize, kids!  I credit their lemonade stand success to their sweet advertising.  Their signs said things like, “Lemonade” and “The world is amazing”.  Yes, the world is amazing.  Someday when I have a bakery, that will for sure be my slogan. (I hope they didn’t copyright it)

Now I need to go decide how to spend my 20 cents!

Upon my return

Back in the States, I’ve been busy living life and doing nothing (or wading through thousands of pictures) since our return.  Now that the stories have been told and pictures have been shared, we can all move on to bigger and better things (or small and more normal-to-life things).  Some things you can look forward to hearing about include: surviving in extreme heat, paddleboats and unicorns, baking adventures, stormy fireworks, and today: brunch at one of my favorite places.

Today Tiffany and I went to brunch at the Bad Waitress.  If you have never been, I will shed a single tear on your behalf.  It is just that good.  My personal favorite beverage there is the Spyhouse Caramella.  Maybe I have told you that before.  I just can’t stop talking about it, because it just tastes so good.  Today I branched out and tried something new to eat.  I didn’t regret it.  SO tasty.  But that isn’t even the most exciting part about brunch.  The excitingness is two-fold.

A)  The walls are like garage doors that open up the restaurant into semi-outdoor seating everywhere!  Magic!  We sat outside, but couldn’t stop staring in at the lack of a wall.

B)  The people watching was phenomenal.  Here are our three highlights:

  • There was a guy who stood behind me, dancing oddly, in attempts to distract Tiffany from our conversation.  We did in fact watch him continue this behavior by several other tables and in the street.
  • Across the street work was being done in a building that will someday be a Dunn Bros.  We watched this family that looked like they were moving their son into his dorm, rather than professionally moving counters into a coffee shop.  They carried and carted countertops and cupboards.  We cheered them on when it seemed like they might get stuck, and told them to pivot.
  • Two elderly gentlemen walked by us, and both smiled at us, commenting as they walked past.  I don’t remember what the first man said, but the second one said, “So… this is where all the beautiful people hang out.”  Afterwards I asked Tiffany why guys our own age never say things like that to us.  She reminded me that perhaps then we wouldn’t just smile and laugh in response, but rather would think the strangers were a bit on the sleazy side. Yes, I suppose that is probably true.
p.s.  I know I said at the beginning there would be stories of unicorns to come.  That was a bit of a lie.  I just wanted to keep you interested.


When I think of the word closure, I think of season two of Friends, when Rachel is out on a date, forcefully/drunkenly borrows a stranger’s cell phone, and leaves Ross a message about how she now has closure.  The next morning he is checking his messages, Rachel remembers what she did the night before and jumps on his back in a desperate attempt to get the phone from him.  I love this episode – specifically the end of it, at the coffee shop, with the rain and all the locks.

surprise! this is me, jumping out from behind a hedge to surprise you with the news that this post is about Europe. New and different, right?

However, this is not a post about closure of fake tv relationships.  I’ve had some complaints lodged about the abrupt ending and lack of closure to Spinster Sister Vacation Part 2: Europa.  In efforts to help you find closure and the strength to move on from my vacation, I would like to share two things.

1: A link to the Women at Hope blog where I highlight some moments from being on holiday.  I am handing out awards like they are candy.  Click here.

2: A viewing of 12 days of vacation in 4 minutes flat.  (it is not actually 4 minutes flat.  It is four minutes and some odd seconds.  Four minutes flat just has a nice ring to it.)

I hope this helps, and that now you will be ready to move on to other things, like cupcakes, paddleboating, and fireworks.  If not, you can schedule a private viewing of the slow motion (not fast forward) version of my vacation slideshow, and I will regale you with stories you may or may not have already heard.

3.  You should read this advice.  It has nothing to do with traveling or closure.  But starting now I will strive to be as funny as this girl… amusing link

All good things must come to an end…

Today is the last day of our trip.  While I will be sad to say goodbye to the beauty and age that is Europe, if I were to continue traveling, I would need a vacation from vacation.  Or a holiday from being on holiday.  (Doesn’t holiday sound so much nicer than vacation?  I remember thinking that during college in London as well).

We once again had a slow start to our day, which we loved.  Have I mentioned my newfound love for putting a little Nutella on my banana?  Probably not a good choice for daily consumption, but a great choice for the last day of my trip. 

Today we headed to Prague Castle.  If you are like me, you might be wondering what the difference is between a castle and a palace, since we saw several of each on our trip.  I will save you the googling effort, and say that a castle was built for defensive purposes, while a palace is built to be a luxurious dwelling place; an ostentatious display of wealth. Word on the street is that Prague Castle is the biggest castle complex (in the world??).  I should really start googling these facts I am telling you to double check them, but instead I just litter my posts with parenthetical question marks. 

Well, the castle grounds sure were impressive.  So impressively large, that as usual we had no idea which direction to head, and picked the wrong way.  It is a wonder that we made it to all our destinations AND home again, with our extreme navigational difficulties this trip.  We toured the St. Vitus Cathedral, full of beautiful stained glass; St. Peter’s Basillica, simple stone beauty; Golden Lane, the adorable tiny row of houses where the king’s guards used to live; and we think we also saw the royal gardens.  We ate apples and siesta bars here.  It was quiet and peaceful.

St. Vitus Cathedral

St. Peter's Basilica

Golden Lane: So tiny and cute!

Despite our seemingly late start and disorientation, we managed to beat the crowds, which was so nice.  Then we found our way to Petrin Hill.  Not an easy task, as Prague likes to camouflage its public transportation stops.  We took the funicular to the top of the hill, where we first found the rose garden.  I use the term “found” loosely, as basically we exited the funicular directly into the garden.  We enjoyed the garden, also with some pigeons and a nice Czech woman, who’s picture I took in front of the flowers.  She then let us in on a little secret botanical garden nearby, hidden from the main path.  This garden is what I imagine The Secret Garden to be like.  It was out of a dream, and overflowing with beautiful flowers.  We fell into our normal flower roles: me taking pictures and Rachel reading, before heading to see Prague’s miniature Eiffel Tower.  I wanted this to be a cuter stop on the trip than it was.  We then wandered along the hill top and stopped to read on a bench that overlooked the city.

at the rose garden

in the secret garden

We enjoyed some people watching from our perch.

People Watching Memorable Moment #1:  Seriously – why do so many people walk carrying bags together – each holding one handle of the bag?  Our favorite couple that did this jointly carried the bag in the middle and each held a GIANT jug of water in their other hand.

People Watching Memorable Moment #2: A biking tour consisting of a family of four and a local tourguide stopped right in front of us.  Here is their exchange:

Mom: Are we going to go across the St. Charles Bridge?

Guide: No.

Mom: Can I ask you a question about it then?

Guide: No.  Bikes are not allowed on it.

Mom: [begins asking question anyways] How… ?

Guide: [cuts her off]: No.  All your questions will be answered later.  [and he gets on his bike and then all follow him, pedaling away]

Our View.

We then walked down a charming street back toward the city.  We passed by a man getting a ticket for driving the wrong way on a one way – but there was a bit of a language barrier, so it was a little amusing. We then stopped for dinner on a cute patio.  My view was of two 14 year old girls dressed in white robes, performing mediocre music on the street on their flute and violin.  Rachel’s view was of a creepy marionette shop with an even creepier puppet outside their front door.

We spent the rest of the evening packing, taking a gelato break, watching a movie, and heading to bed before flying home the next morning. 

I’d count Spinsters Sisters: Europa Edition a successful trip!  Thanks sister!

A bit of culture. A bit of regret. A bit of wonder.

We had a couple of cultural/theater experiences planned for the Prague segment of our trip.  We would have liked to experience more culture in Vienna as well, but as I’ve said, all the talent was on holiday while we were in Vienna.

We were quite excited for the Black Light Theater.  It seemed to be a theater experience unique to where we were traveling, and different from anything we’d seen before.  It sounded so excited: black lights, puppetry, dancing, acrobatics, video imagery.  And I guess it did include those things, but not in a “wow, what a visual treat for my eyes” sort of way, but rather in a poorly done high school theater trying to be artsy sort of way.  (enphasis on the poorly done of the high school theater genre.  I’ve seen some great high school theater productions.  This just would not even qualify for that sort of rating).  I found this video online.  If only we’d watched that prior to our ticket purchase. 

And this was before the baffling partial nudity in the second act, which left everyone confused, and probably wishing they’d left at intermission (at least that is what we wished).  Seriously Alice, put your shirt back on.  What the heck.

Here is the “before” and “after” of our experience.

Before: our eyes are full of promise

After: what the heck??!? make it stop.

The next night was a much, MUCH, more enjoyable cultural experience.  We went to the ballet!  The Best of Swan Lake was wonderful and beautiful, and captivating, and all we could have hoped for.  We never fancied ourselves as the ballet-attending type of girls.  Apparently we are?  We would gladly go again.  It was the abridged version – under 2 hours – and we wished it had gone on so much longer.  Beautiful.  We loved it.  When can we go again?

Before AND After: loving it

Karlstejn: A fairy tale? Or a misspelling of my last name?

Today our agenda primarily involved a day trip out to a castle.  The reasons we chose this day trip are two-fold.

Fold #1: the tour book told us this castle is like a fairy tale

Fold #2: the name of the castle reminded us of our last name, or more specifically, ways our last name could very well be spelled by a pizza delivery or on junk mail, or by my horrid boss at Old Navy back in the day.

Clearly, this was meant to be part of our Europa Adventures.

Because up until now we have traveled, learned European history, toured, experienced, seen, and feasted ourselves into a state of tourist exhaustion, we were feeling quite pleased with ourselves that our Prague days were not filled to the brim like the rest of our trip has been.  We took full advantage, and slept in (until 8:00) and leisurely made our way out the door (after 9:30) and worked our way to Karlstejn.

Let’s just say it is a good thing we planned to take our time, because this day wasn’t among the simplest.  But it was among the loveliest.

Sometimes when you are standing on the platform at the train station, you think to yourself, “I wonder if this is really my train I am getting on”.  Well, it usually is, so no worries.  Today we didn’t really have time to even ask ourselves that question, as we got to the tracks 2 minutes before our train was scheduled to depart.  So we hopped on, crossed our fingers, and hoped for the best.

Let’s just say the jury is still out on what exactly went wrong.  I’m not entirely convinced we were completely on the wrong train.  Although if a kindly woman across the aisle from us hadn’t spoken English, we probably still would be wandering the Czech countryside.

hmm... this doesn't look like Karlstejn... confusing.

The train was headed the right way,  Apparently it just wasn’t heading far enough.  We got off at the end of the line (per nice woman’s directions) and waited about 35 minutes for the next train to come through.  We got on that one, rode two more stops, and found ourselves in Karlstejn.  Tricky, no?

Rachel says, "If you fall down that hill trying to take a picture of that flower, I'm not coming after you." What kind of a sister is she??

The tour book told us that the Karlstejn Castle rises up on the hill like a fairy tale castle.  When I looked at the pictures of it, I wasn’t convinced.  So I won’t take it personally if you feel the same way looking at our pictures.  However, it was in fact like we were in Sleeping Beauty (or some other such tale).  I loved it so much: the turrets and parapets, and imposing grandeur.

this castle is almost named after me

The hike up the hill began to disillusion us.  However, just when we thought we were a third of the way up and would likely die before reaching the top in this heat, we discovered we were there!  We didn’t want to pay to go in (I mean, we’ve toured approximately 1,792 castles, palaces, and churches at this point in our journey) but we did wander around the castle grounds and enjoy the view of the village below.

I love me some ivy on a wall

I especially enjoyed this little pocket of flowers brimming with butterfly/moth/something pretty fluttering about.  I will not subject you to the series of 43 butterfly/moth/something pretty fluttering pictures that I took in the next 3 minutes.  You are welcome.  I will however share this one. 

We walked down, stopping in little shops, being mistaken for a couple of Danish girls on holiday, and then bought hot dogs from a vendor for lunch.  They drilled a hole in a loaf of French bread, dropped the dog down into it, and put it in this jovial paper bag. 

We found a cute bench and sat down to enjoy our “feast” and then headed back toward the train station.  We arrived two minutes before the train back to Praha (Prague to you non-German or Czech speakers) and enjoyed the scenic ride back to the city.  One of our favorite scenes was that of a medium sized, extremely fluffly, white dog being toted about on the train in the tinest of wicker baskets.  How it fit in this basket, I do not know.  Why it sat so well in its cramped quarters I also do not know.  What I do know is that I regret not getting a photo of this for you.

We treated ourselves to some gelato from the Restaurant U Prince gelato stand (per my friend Liza’s recommendation) once we got back to Prague.  I had the cookies flavor and the caramel flavor.  It was the most delicious thing I’ve ever tasted.  Especially when accompanied by watching this small child single mindedly chase this pigeon all around the square (seriously, where were his parents?  This is the most crowded spot in the whole city).  Yes, I’m a creeper who took a picture of a child I don’t know.  But seriously, it was an amazing bit of people watching.  He truly had mad pigeon chasing skills, which is impressive as he was not big enough to even have pedals on his bike. 

Riding Trains: we are basically just like Harry Potter

This morning we set out on our final long-distance train ride of the trip: Vienna to Prague.  We’ve had some “situations” with train reservations, and people sitting in our seats and not wanting to move.  However, we were hopeful this trip would be a little easier because we vaguely remembered hearing a rumor that when you cross country lines you need to reserve seats.  Whether this is actually true or not, I don’t know.  But what I do know is that we were delighted to discover that we were in a train car that had compartments a’la Harry Potter, and even better, we had our compartment to ourselves (until the last 30 min of the trip, when a little old Czech lady joined us).  Win!  Not only could we stretch out, but we also could talk at a normal volume without concern we were disturbing those around us.  While it was our longest train ride yet, it was also the best train ride to date. 

I could hardly wait to arrive in Prague.  I’d heard so much about what a beautiful city it was, and wanted to feast my own eyes upon the wondrous red roofs that the city is known for.

As usual, it was a bit tricky to actually locate our hotel.  We (and by we, I mean Rachel) would always be able to find directions for our hotels according to which metro stop we needed to get off on, but rarely did the hotels tell us what to do after that.  They must think it is fairly obvious.  Well, when there are 1 trillion different ways out of the subway stop, it  is less than obvious, unless you by chance pick the one exit that deposits you in front of the hotel (which we did not discover until much later in our trip).  While we wandered, all lost-like, on the cobblestone square of Namesti Repbuliky, we were more than glad that we packed in carry-on sized suitcases.

Old Town Square

When we got to the hotel, I was impressed by how important Prague finds my sister to be.  Before we finished checking in, the hotel manager came over to shake hands and introduce herself to my sister.  Then, we’d barely closed the door when there was a knock on the door.  Oh, just a little complimentary room service to welcome us.  Then Rachel opened the mini-fridge to see if there was room for a our complimentary water inside, when the phone rang (scaring her as if it were a mini-fridge alarm of sorts) but it was really just the front desk, wanting to make sure the room was satisfactory.

After visiting the Executive Lounge, where they really wanted to make sure we were well hydrated, we set out to tour the city.  We saw all the main Prague sights that afternoon: Powder Tower, the Estate Theater, Old Town Square, Old Town Hall, the Astronomical Clock, and St. Charles Bridge.

Powder Tower

I was more impressed with the Astronomical Clock than I expected to be.  It was bigger and closer to street level than I anticipated.  That being said, when the morality play happens in the clock at the top  of the hour, I thought the figurines would come out, not just circle around behind little windows.  However, I did enjoy the surprise trumpeting from the top of the tour once the little play had wrapped up. 

We went up to the tower of the Old Town Hall and absolutely loved the view.  This is the Prague I had been waiting for.  It was enchanting and lovely.

Beautiful red roofs of Praha

I was ill-prepared for all the wedding pictures we would see in front of the clock (after being married in the hall).  My favorite couple is the one that threw their bouquet to the crowd.  We later saw them at other sites around the city as they got their wedding pictures taken. 

While I knew that tourists came to Prague, I did not realize the sheer volume of tourists we would encounter.  We heard more English spoken around us than I hear back in the states (ok, this might be an exaggeration, but not by much – SO much English, so little Czech).  Because it was so touristy, it was hardy to appreciate the charm.  I would vote Prague the prettiest city from a bird’s eye view.  I couldn’t get enough of those red roofs.  The influx of tourists resulting in the lack of really getting to see Czech culture, drops Prague to my 3rd favorite city of the trip.  I am for sure glad we went here – I have wanted to see it for myself for years, but I don’t need to travel back here.  I did however love the super narrow winding cobblestone streets.  Rachel did not, because they were completely impossible to navigate (picture at least 10 turns necessary just to stay on a single street), but I thought they were quite enjoyable (until we got the tiniestbit lost at night.  But that is another story, for another time.  We are fine, Mom, don’t even worry)

pre-crowd gathering