Tuesday Travels: Ciao Italia

A little over a month ago Adam had the grand idea for a Newly Newlywed Adventure. We began our search of where the road- or friendly skies- would take us. Originally, our plan was to return to Hawaii. IMG_1426.JPG

The Big Island and Kauai were still on our Wish List, but with the recent volcano eruption (and taking a helitour over the volcano was a “must do”) we opted to save that vacation for another time.

We spend days researching. Toyed with Iceland, Africa and Australia. It wasn’t until I put my Key To The World Travel Travel Planner skills to the test and happened to find a fantastic deal to Italy, we just couldn’t pass up.

So, with three weeks until take-off the planning began! Once we decided on Italy, we were both craving Italian food. Naturally, we had to have our “planning meetings” at Antico Pizza Napoletana. (AKA: The BEST pizza in Atlanta!) IMG_0394.JPG

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Unlike most of our vacations, this trip was very unplanned. Besides knowing where we were staying, we had no other set plans.  [I’ll just go ahead and put it out there…Being the planner that I am, I did a really good job with being flexible. Just ask Adam.}

July 3, 2018 our bags were packed and we said arrivederci to the USA onboard a Delta PINK RIBBON Plane. IMG_1054.JPG

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We flew in style- Delta One -for our first 8 hour leg of the trip to Amsterdam. Such fun cheers-ing to vacation and our time away! Our cabin mates just happened to be The Mingos and their entourage. After a 4 hour layer over in Amsterdam, a short 1.5 hour KLM flight and two landing attempts later (the Florence runway is quite small) we arrived in Italy about noon local time on July 4th. IMG_2244.JPG

We grabbed our luggage and headed to the Rental Car Center…that’s right, you read that correctly. We decided to rent a car and drive in Italy! That was an adventure in itself!

{Travel Tip: BE CAREFUL if you decide to rent a car internationally. Even though we used Enterprise and booked the car in advance, they tried to over charge us and cut our days on the rental. Thankfully Adam had copies of the agreement stored in his E-Mail and I had printed copies with me.  Slightly stressful, but we survived and so glad we ended up having a vehicle to get around. Also, keep in mind the rental car center is made up primarily of trailers all on gravel roads. It can be a bit of a work out pulling your luggage to and from your car.}

Two bags full of clothes, two over sized wine suitcases and 4 carry on bags later the Newly Newlyweds were ready to hit the road and head to our first stop, Borgo Argenina. A truly magical Bed & Breakfast we cannot wait to tell you all about!

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Follow along our Italian Adventure over the next days and weeks to come. We’re so looking forward to reminiscing to our time in Italy as we share it with y’all! We can’t wait to return to the beauty of Tuscany someday.

Until next time, we hope you’re enjoying your Newly Newlywed or Nearly Newlywed moments as much as we are!

Cheers Y’all!

Adam & Holly

PS: Remember, we’re newlyweds, not experts!

Tuesday Travels: West Coast Wanders {Part One}

After weeks of researching and following other travel blogs it was finally time for @Helihubby and I to head to the West Coast!  Our bags were overpacked and we were off to start Adam’s 30th Birthday Celebration!

Plane

We flew Delta– Lord knows that is another story! Thanks to Delta’s little mess up, I almost didn’t make it through TSA Screeners! With a little Southern Charm and persuading them with my Stella&Dot Business Cards (with my maiden name) they let me through! WHEW! We flew into SFO, picked up our rental car and our first stop? A very late night supper stop at IN-N-OUT Burger. YUMMMMM!!!!

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{In-N-Out Burger is the Fast Food joint of the stars. Know for their “secret menu” it’s the Waffle House of the West!}

The first two days of our trip were spent in Napa. If you have not been and like wine-or don’t like wine- it is a must do trip! We absolutely loved this portion of our vacation! The only thing we wish we had done differently was allowed more time to just relax at our hotel, The Meritage Resort.They welcomed us with a bottle of wine and a view of a vineyard outside our backdoor. We could have spent a week in Napa alone.

Meritage Resort Wine

Thursday: 

We started the day about 7am. First stop, Oakville Grocery. We heard time and time again from friends about this “cute little grocery store” we just had to stop at on our way into Napa Valley. Boy were they right! It was darling!

Oakville Grocery 1

Oakville is a great stop to start {or end} your day. They have a reasonably priced and unique sandwich menu with picnic tables in a vineyard to dine. Adam and I each had a Breakfast Sandwich…wish I could remember what it was, but oh so tasty!

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 We did a little shopping- picked up a loaf of bread, a selection of local cheeses and meats for us to snack on throughout the day.

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{This is the way to go! If you’re  planning a day of tastings stop and grab some snacks. There are not many places to stop for lunch between vineyards.}

Oakville is full of local products and has so much character. During their recent renovation they discovered a well (pictured below) that was originally made when Oakville began in the 1800’s.

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From Oakville Grocery we continued into Napa Valley for our 10am tour at Castello di Amorosa. 

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Apparently Napa is a small world! I ran into one of my best friends from Middle/High School, Brianna and her fiancé Darryl at The Castle! They were recently engaged at Frog’s Leap Winery and were back visiting. They have a great engagement story, if you have some time give it a read!

Touring The Castle was one of our favorite things we did on our trip.

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I will say, the tour is fantastic, you learn a lot about the property. Did you know it was used for a Rose Ceremony for the Bachelor during Jake Pavelka’s season? (See the atrium picture below) If you are interested in learning more about the wine and the wine making process, the general tour is probably not for you.  That was the only disappointment we left with- wish we had learned more about wine rather than the facility. 

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Out of all the wineries we visited and tastings we did, we left The Castle with the most bottles of wine! We had heard mixed reviews on their selection and really didn’t know what to expect going into the tour. They ended up having two fantastic, sweet wines that both Adam and I enjoyed. We were able to taste 5 wines each accompanied with Sea Salted Chocolate- to die for! Best part of the tasting!

Castle Wine

During our Castle Tour we also got to sample a Cabernet right out of the barrel- pretty cool! Cheers to our first tasting!

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Next stop, Sterling Vineyards.

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Sterling is the only vineyard with an arial tram- spectacular views!  We really enjoyed the pace of this winery. They had 5 or 6 different tasting stations for us to visit. We were able to go at our pace touring the vineyard and tasting the variations they offered. Definitely worth visiting for the views alone! (Part of your entrance fee includes a Sterling Wine glass to take home.) Cheers!

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 From Sterling we hopped over to Beringer. Beringer was not originally on our schedule, but just happens to be the producer of a White Zin that my Aunt Tina’s loves. Soooo we just had to stop by!

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Do you Beringer fans recognize this house? If not, grab a bottle of their White Zin and it may come to you!

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We continued our planned tastings to Sutter Home Winery. Sutter Home is the only winery in the Valley that still offers FREE, yes, you read correctly, FREE tastings! You are offered a variety of 5 samplings- some of the wines are sold nationally in your local grocery store and others are specific to only being sold at the winery.

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Sutter Home was my favorite stop along our route. Our server, Jennifer, was so friendly and knowledgable…and not to mention she is a huge BRAVES fan! While at our tasting we ran into another couple from Atlanta and just had the best time tasting and getting tips of things to see and do in San Francisco! It was the most fun we’d had at a tasting all day! Thanks Jennifer!

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{Then again, maybe we just liked it so much because they gave us these bottles of wine!}

On the way to our final winery we ended up taking a detour to Freemark Abbey’s tasting room. They are currently going through renovations, but we had a great time at our impromptu tasting. They had a wide selection of red wines to taste- Adam and I shared one tasting flight. It’s a small venue right now- standing room only, but a nice little spot to stop if you want to avoid the crowds. Freemark Abbey Freemark Abbey 2

Whew! Are you tired yet? Five wineries in the books on Day 1 and just one more to go! Our last Vineyard for the day was Mumm.

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Mumm is known for their Bubbly- what a fun way to end our first day!

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All their tastings are table service in an open atrium setting and have spectacular views! It was a great place to end our tasting tour for the day. (Side note- we did visit near closing time and traffic leaving was horrible! Keep that in mind for future plans)

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Our final stop on the way back to the resort was the V Marketplace in Yountville. You’ve got to stop by while you are in the Napa area. The vintage 1870 building is the home to Napa’s original hot air balloon company. The building has been restored and is now home to multiple shops, art galleries and restaurants. We browsed around Napa Style- a cafe style shop with all sorts of locally made cooking spices and sauces. (Stay tuned to our Friday Favorites Blog for a details on one of our favorite souvenirs!)

We grabbed a few appetizers and cocktails at Bottega. Oh-My-Gosh! If you can get in, definitely make a stop! Food Network Chef, Michael Chiarello, created a farm to table Italian style menu. It was fantastic! We ordered Polpette alla Griglia-Grilled short rib meatballs, Chiarello Family Vineyard Zinfandel conserva, Cipollini agrodolce, kumqats, sunchoke passata-so delicious! We could have ordered more! We also tried their Calamari Fritti a Monterey Calamari crisped with Arborio rice flour and aioli nero. Each table is served a bread loaf with an absolutely amazing Asiago and Reggiano cheeses dip with fresh garlic, chili and fresh herbs. It is to die for y’all! Oh so yummy! I’m craving it now!

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Can’t forget to mention our favorite part…cocktails! I had some sort of Spiked Lemonade with Rosemary…cheers!

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What a busy and exciting first day of visiting Napa! Six wineries in one day! Stay tuned for {Part 2} of our West Coast Wanders later this week!

All of the Vineyards we visited on Day 1 can be found on @Twitter. Look into  following them, send them a tweet them prior to your visit, especially if you are celebrating something. Each Winery we visited went out of their way to say “Happy Birthday” to Adam or give him an extra tasting because of a tweet I previously mentioned. LOVE LOVE LOVE Twitter…you should too!

@Meritageresort

@OakvilleGrocery 

@TheCastello

@Sterlingwines

@Beringervyds

@SutterHome

@FreemarkAbbey

@MummNapaWinery

We hope you are enjoying your Newly Newlywed or Nearly Newlywed moments as much as we are!

Cheers Y’all!

Adam & Holly

PS: Remember, we’re Newlyweds not experts!

Tuesday Travels

@HeliHubby (are you following him on Twitter yet?) and I are packing our bags again!

This time we are off to the West Coast for a little R&R to celebrate Adam turning the BIG 3-0 in San Francisco! Oh who are we kidding? I highly doubt there will be much time for rest and relaxation with the schedule I have planned!

Have you visited the West Coast? We would love to know your favorite spots in San Francisco and Napa areas. We’ve gotten so many tips from friends old and new that we have recently met traveling, but are always looking for more ideas!

Take a look at our itinerary thus far- we’d love to hear your thoughts!

Day 1:

We arrive at SFO late in the evening and plan to make the hour drive North to Napa where we start the first part of our trip.

Day 2:

Our first full day in Napa starts bright and early- can’t miss an opportunity to try some new wine! We begin our day with a drive on CA-29 N to Castello di Amorosa for our first Vineyard Tour and Tasting. From The Castle (@thecastello on twitter) we head over to Sterling Vineyards for a Noon tasting and ride on their ariel gondola. After our tour at Sterling (@sterlingwines on twitter) we’re planning to hop around a few vineyards thru Yountville (we hear its a darling little town with lots of character and shopping) and back down towards the Meritage Resort. (@meritageresort on twitter)

*Were still looking for somewhere for Supper that night. We were not able to get a reservation at The French Laundry. *

Day 3:

The following day we’re heading back to San Francisco for the remainder of our trip. We’ll leave our hotel, head South through Novato and San Rafael toward the Muir Woods stopping at a few vineyards along the way, before finally reaching San Francisco.

Day 4:

Our first full day in San Francisco we’re planning to do all the “Touristy” things: crossing the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito, visiting Fisherman’s Wharf for some Clam Chowder in a Bread Bowl, riding a cable car through town, swinging by the “Full House” House (duh!),  and driving down Lombard Street.

Do you think we are missing anything? Know of a fun night life spot? Fill us in!

Day 5:

Our final day in the West Coast begins with an 8:30am tour of Alcatraz– we’ve heard it is a fantastic tour! After the tour we’re heading to the ballpark to take in a  little baseball action and cheer on former Atlanta Brave, Tim Hudson and his San Francisco Giants (@sfgiants on twitter)! Adam and I are looking forward to checking another ballpark off of out list! Once the game ends, we have the entire day to site see (and have NOTHING planned) as we’re taking the Red Eye home.

We can’t wait for our next adventure! Don’t forget to leave a comment and share your favorite spots with us! Let the count down begin!

Hope you’re enjoying your Newly Newlywed or Nearly Newlywed Moments as much as we are!

Cheers Y’all!

Adam & Holly

PS: Remember, we’re Newlyweds not experts!