Should you bring a stroller to Venice?

This year we hit up Venice for Carnival.  It was amazing.  I hope to share more, at least pics, soon.

But in case I don’t get around to it because the Year of Togetherness has decimated blogging around here, I at least wanted to address something that I wondered a lot about before our trip.  I’m talking bout strollers.

Should we do no strollers?  Two umbrellas?  The double?  The hiking backpack?  I spent more hours than I care to admit pondering what to do about this.  The good news is that now I’ve pondered so you don’t have to.

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Three strikes and you’re out . . . of the stroller


We just got back from a massive two week road trip.

Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia, and Slovenia.

It was awesome.  Not every moment, of course (I’m looking at you, food poisoning in Sarajevo).  But a fun trip.

We took our Kinderwagon, but I was excited to have completely stoller-free days too.  Like at Plitvice Falls, Lake Bled, Kotor, and the Postojna Cave.  They did a lot of walking.  (I was so proud.)  We also did a lot of carrying.  Natch.

When we busted out the stroller for a full day in Ljubljana, I was glad to have it, but I was also dreading it.

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ICYMI: Where did 2015 go, ya’ll?

Have you started to feel like every day for the whole rest of the year is planned?  Seriously, where did it all go??  And how do I already feel behind on Christmas shopping???

Chase pigeons every day

Chase pigeons every day

On the Blog:

I’m slowly coming to terms with the fact that we are having adventures faster than I can write about them.  I’ve been updating Travel Resources with more info to give you travel ideas, even if there aren’t links to full posts.  Looking for your next day trip or weekend getaway?  Check it out here.

One adventure I did cover was our jam-packed day trip to Turin.  If you have a chance, I’d spend more than a day here.

I also talked about my love/hate relationship with crowds and our trips to Nemi and Orte.

As well as gettin’ deep about last meals at Castel Sant’ Angelo.

And 3 tips to make your travel awesome.

Huh, I guess there are still some travel posts going up around here.  I feel like things have definitely gone off the rails lately.  #sorrynotsorry

Fall is here!  I still haven’t ordered my OTK boots, but I’m sure everyone here would like me to just do it or shut up about it.  What’s on your fall fashion wish list?

Heh, million dollar baby.  LITERALLY.  And then my other recent attempt at humor where I talk resumes and giving booze to horses.

The one where I get kind of preachy about judging other people.  I swear, I’ve put the soap box away.  For now at least.

My baby is 3!!  Still says hilarious things.  (And like my kid, I’m very food-oriented.   Treat yo self.)

On the Internets:

For my hipster peeps, have you tried switchel?  I really want to try this apple cider vinegar drink, but I’m having a hard time on the ginger juice.  I can’t find it in juice form, and I don’t have the capability to juice fresh ginger.

This video had me cry laughing.  If you want to kill your morning, delve into Break Womb’s other stuff.  Ah, it’s funny because it’s true.

How not to say the wrong thing

If you looking for some fall pieces of your own, Ann Taylor is 50% off through Sunday.

I’m very intrigued by this stroller.  Any urbanites tried this one?

That’s all I got.  Happy weekend everyone!

We did the monster mash

Bomarzo’s hottest site is Parco dei Mostri (Park of the Monsters).  Also known as the Sacro Bosco, this place–created during the 16th century–is a collaboration between promoter Pier Francesco Orsini and architect Pirro Ligorio.  This place has everything: dragons, elephants, leaning houses, and mystery tour surprises.  What are mystery tour surprises?  It’s that thing where your toddler takes you off the labeled route.

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One of Henry's favorites . . . at least judging by how much he talks about it

One of Henry’s favorites . . . at least judging by how much he talks about it

Stefon-ing aside, this was our most recent Saturday adventure destination.  Selected because my mom raved about this park, it was a convenient distance away (about an hour), and we needed to rev the car to make sure it is ready for our Veteran’s Day excursion to Tuscany (!).  Hopefully this jaunt did the trick.  James is now concerned about the gas being old.  Me: “Gas doesn’t go bad.”  James: “Stay away from the car.”

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It was a gorgeous day.  We went stroller-free.  This was smart because the park is not huge, but has lots of elevation change.

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After learning my lesson at Hadrian’s Villa, we took the picnic with us this time.  Which we enjoyed technically out of the picnic area.  This is pretty scandalous, rule-breaking stuff for me.  Sadly, I am not being facetious.

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The park was nice, but it must have been truly ridiculous back in the 1500s.  A DRAGON?  WHAT??

Henry was a good sport for much of the trip.  But he also enjoyed jumping from things and playing in the leaves.  You know, the usual.

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Since naptime was already good and hosed, we enjoyed some more of the weather at the playground on the way out.  Henry tried to befriend a little boy named Giorgio as his trusted seesawing companion.

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As we pulled out of the parking lot, both kids were totally and completely over everything.  There was much screaming until the magic of the car running finally put them to sleep.  James navigated the autostrade like a pro.  All in all, a pretty successful outing.

My kind of errands


On Saturday, around 5:00 pm, in the finally crisp fall weather, we set off on our evening passagiata.  Passagiata is that special time in the late afternoon when you just walk, browse store windows, see and be seen.  Another expat describes it well here.  The people watching really is fantastic.  I particularly like this walk because, if Henry will consent to being stroller-ed, it is almost like a mini-date for James and me.

Although restaurants won’t open until around 7:00 pm, most of the stores are open, after possibly being closed during mid-afternoon.  We took advantage of this to check a few tasks off the list.

Up first, the tabacchi.  That’s right, the tobacco store.  We don’t smoke, but I almost think of these things like gas stations for pedestrians.  You can get snacks, magazines, and–our aim–metro/bus tickets.  I’ve got 10 tickets burning a hole in my pocket now.  I’m hoping to share some adventures in public transportation soon!

Next, we strolled over to the wine store.  I’m still scared to take in the stroller because of space issues and fear of Henry grabbing bottles, but James picked up more recommendations from his fave employee (a French woman who speaks excellent English).  The last batch had a good mouth feel, but, now that the weather is cooling, I’m looking for something more robust.  Look for more wine tweets on these soon.

And then, the pasticceria.  Oh, the pasticceria!  This is a pastry and chocolate shop that we have passed many times but never entered.  (I again blame the stroller and Henry grabbing things.)  James came out with 18 euros worth of amazing looking chocolate.  He picked up some dark chocolate bark with hazelnut pieces and some little bonbon squares.  We’ll see how long these stick around.  They are incredibly rich so it would be hard to eat a lot of them at once.  I think.

After the kids went to bed, we had some incredible takeout from Himalaya’s Kashmir.  Followed by a pretty stellar wine and dessert course.  This was a nice Saturday night before dealing with Daylight Savings Time, which I now know to have been invented only to torture parents.  We start earlier than the U.S. so for the next few days, I’m only five hours ahead of you folks on the East Coast.

Are things different? Glad you asked: Lifestyle Edition

Differences around the house summarized here.

Before the move, I was a full-time associate at a law firm in DC.  Henry was in daycare full-time and Mac would have been headed that way.  Now, I’m home with both kids in Rome.  I’m enjoying it so far.  I enjoy it more because what I did before was so different.  I’m sure my thoughts on this will change, but here’s my biggest positive and negative to date.


On the plus side, I’m more relaxed now.  I didn’t realize how draining I found it trying to get everyone places on time.  And it felt like we were always trying to get some place on time.  Rushing to get out the door in the mornings.  Rushing to make it to daycare on time before it closed.  Rushing to get home.  Even meeting up with friends on the weekends could feel like a chore to get out the door.

Now there are rarely places we have to be at certain times.  I like that.  We do have social engagements (not as fancy as that sounds), but they are pretty casual.  Also, many have been in a group setting so we aren’t making anyone wait if we are delayed.

Ditto for deadlines.  Work was–understandably–filled with deadlines.  Clients needed things at certain times.  That meant I either needed to finish it in time to send to the client or in time to send to the partner to review and send to the client.  Sometimes deadlines felt arbitrary.  But even arbitrary deadlines are important when someone is paying you for that timing.

Now my deadlines are my own.  And are more goals than deadlines.  I’m working to post here every weekday, but the world doesn’t end if I don’t.  I’d like to get a little more on top of tasks like emailing so and so, scheduling a photo shoot, booking trips, etc.  But these are all my tasks to do, and I get to decide when to do them.  Or when James gets to do them.


I like that I can breathe a little easier.  But I do miss what I describe as “bodily autonomy.”  The ability to just take yourself by yourself wherever you’d like to go.  Before I had hours each day where I could do this.  Granted, I was usually just commuting, working, grabbing lunch, etc. but oh the freedom of movement!  Now, we were here more than two weeks before I used the stairs in our building.  Because every other time I had the stroller or a child strapped to me.  Getting out the door now requires packing the stuff and equipment to transport 50 pounds of children.  Even inside the house, things like bathroom trips are strategic.  You always have to know where all the players are on the field.  I remember now hearing other moms saying that sometimes they just didn’t want to be touched by the end of the day.  I get it now.  Oh, I get it.

I know that some of this I’m doing to myself.  If I wanted to head out alone, I could do more.  But when James comes home after work, it’s time for dinner.  And then bedtime.  Which I could skip.  But at the end of the day, I’m not usually jumping to go bounding out the door by myself.  Ditto for weekends.  I could definitely do more by myself, but this is family time.  I hate to miss it.  I’m sure things will change as they get a little older.  Until then, I’m working on putting together some ladies nights.  I registered for the lottery for the Berlin marathon to see if I can cross that off the travel list, and if I get in, that will mean plenty of solo training time.

So plenty of other differences, but those are my big two.  Anyone made a similar switch?  What was your biggest difference?

Roman Locomotion (as observed by a pedestrian)

This is about how Romans get around on the roads.  Plenty of people walk.  And there is public transportation in the form of buses, trams, and the metro.  I’ll cover that once I figure it out.  The public transportation, that is.  I am theoretically proficient at walking.

Everyone here drives.  EVERYONE.  Your grandmother, your teenagers, families with kids, soccer hooligans.  Everyone.  According to the internets, Rome has almost 2.9 million people.  According to my unscientific observations, 92% of them drive.  “But where do they all park??” you ask incredulously.  I know.  I’m still trying to figure this out.  The best I can tell is they park (1) on top of each other and (2) wherever they can.

Up first, the motorini.  There are crazy numbers of motos on the road.  They zip in and out from between cars.  They jostle for position at lights, blocking crosswalks.  This seems like the most efficient way for a single person to get around, but also very terrifying.  I have not yet verified, but someone told me that motorini count as pedestrians in the eyes of the law, which contributes to their fearlessness because they have little to lose in an accident.  BESIDES THEIR LIVES.  At least most do wear helmets.  Usually with a cell phone stuffed under it to chat on the commute.

See the motorini gearing up to go?

See the motorini gearing up to go?

They move in herds and they park in gaggles.  You might see 10, 50, or even 100 all grouped together.

Henry is in moto heaven.  I would think he’d get sick of it, but he comments on all of them as we go by.  Easy distraction = I’ll take it.

A small-ish herd of motorini

A small-ish herd of motorini

They also park on the sidewalks.  Most of them are black or silver.  I would think you’d see more individuality for ease of locating yours, if not in color then in stickers or something.  Basically the equivalence of tying a ribbon onto your black suitcase.  But this hasn’t been the case.  I see a few pops of color.  Red, blue, yellow.  And one moto with a Bob Marley sticker.  I guess Italians just remember where they park these things.  So much for my “Dude, where’s my Motorino” movie pitch.

Considerate motos . . . plenty of room to pass

Considerate motos . . . plenty of room to pass

But don’t fret.  There are plenty of cars on the road as well.  Cars are definitely of a more compact nature.  I see a lot of Fiats, Smart Cars, and Minis.  We’ve run across some really adorable vintage Fiats and Minis, but I do not have pictures of them for you because I am the worst.

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Cars park up and down both sides of most streets.  They create spaces where none exist.  They occasionally block sidewalks, particularly when they park on corners.  I’ve had some frustrating moments where a sidewalk is impassable, but it is impossible to get into the street because the cars are parked that close together.

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I’m not entirely sure on the draw of driving.  I know plenty of times you don’t have a choice.  But it seems to take forever.  They just sit in traffic.  Burning through expensive gasoline.

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An interesting phenomenon we’ve observed is their unorthodox approach to going places without actually knowing where they are going.  We’ve been stopped at least three times from people pulling over to ask for directions.  (This also happens a lot with pedestrians.)  There just seems to be the mentality of, well, we don’t know exactly where we’re going, but surely someone will tell us along the way.

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Romans will fit 10 Smart cars in that space

There are a few bicycles on the road, but not very many.  I see more bikes in parks.  Unlike motorini, not many helmets on bikers.

You do see some sci-fi type creations as well.  This is a Renault Twizy, which is battery powered.

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I’ve seen other unusual vehicles as well.  I’ll work harder on snapping photos of them in their natural habitat!

That time we accidentally crashed a movie set

We did it!  We finally went on an outing in the car.  After my indecision and the dead car battery kept us from any exotic long weekend plans, we decided to do a day trip on Columbus Day to Tivoli.  Villa D’Est is closed on Mondays, but we could still hit Hadrian’s Villa (Villa Adriana).  Armed with the freshly-recharged car battery, a haphazard picnic, the umbrella stroller, and the lillebaby, we set off around 9:30 am.  Adventure ho!

Have I mentioned our car before?  It’s a 2003 Audi station wagon.  Very low mileage because it used to be the Irish Ambassador’s to the Vatican.  (Or something like that.)  Instead of shipping a car, we bought it here right before we came.  This one is already “lightly Romanized.”  No need to put that many dinks and scratches on our beloved Passat we decided.

Even though it is a station wagon, the car is definitely not huge.  Poor Henry doesn’t have quite the foot room he deserves sitting behind James.  He’s stuck there though because Mac’s rear-facing car seat only has a chance of fitting behind me.

James insisted on purchasing a European GPS before we embarked on any journeys.  He didn’t want our hands in the fate of sketchy data coverage on the Google maps.  Fine by me.  I’m not sure I plan on driving ever so whatever you need to make this happen, Little Mister, is ok with me.

The GPS said it would take us about 30 minutes.  It was about an hour.  Traffic reaffirmed my desire never to drive here ever.  And it wasn’t just the other drivers.  There really aren’t lanes.  It isn’t even a question of whether there are two or three lanes, but also not knowing where the center dividing line is.  Fun!

After navigating the roads out of town and the Autostrade, the GPS tried to lead us astray.  Thankfully, following the Italian road signs actually worked out.  After some maneuvering, we found the parking lot.  We noticed some white tents to the side of the parking lot.  I think I said something like “oh, cool, a market, we’ll have to check that out later.”  (Foreshadowing: not a market.)

Tickets were a little pricey.  11 euro for adults plus 3 more for parking, but at least kids were free.  We made it up what felt like a never ending hill and then there we were.  You could see the wall.  Of course, we did a quick diaper change before heading in.  #placesmysonsjunkhasbeen

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Apparently Villa Adriana is the OG Versailles.  Warning: liberal paraphrasing ahead.  It seems that Hadrian decided Rome was too stinky and gross so he built his own place outside town and then just posted up there permanently.  And it is quite the place.  400 acres.  We barely scratched the surface, and that is only of what has already been excavated.

It's only a model

It’s only a model

One of the better preserved areas we saw was the Canopus.  Apparently Hadrian put a bunch of copies of things he’d seen on his travels and conquests.



Yup - that's a crocodile statue

Yup – that’s a crocodile statue

I spent a good bit of time just trying to picture what it must have been like back in the day.  Orchards in bloom, people clustered around doing whatever they did, servants scurrying.  I’m pretty bad at picturing, but you could tell it was an impressive place.  I did note that it was pretty much 85 in mid-October.  So everyone I pictured was pretty sweaty.

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We struggled mightily with the how much to push question.  I paid my 25 euros.  I came all the way here.  I wanted to see things, darnit!  Henry, however, wanted to roll his car in the dirt.  And slide down a hill on pine needles.  And the lizards that were EVERYWHERE.  After lugging the stroller up too many stairs and wishing we had more food, we were stick-a-fork-in-it done.  The kids both passed out on the way to the car.  I was looking forward to checking out that market and the picnic in the car.

Spaz included for scale

Spaz included for scale

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On the long walk back to the car, we noticed that an area was closed off for “cinema” something or other.  There were an awful lot of vehicles over that way.  Then we saw dudes on horses.  In full Roman soldier regalia.  And we heard a director yelling something in English.

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So that “market” we saw was the makeshift production village.  They had trailers and people with costumes.  People eating in a shaded mess area and generally taunting our stomachs.  Animals such as donkeys and goats; location of PETA representative unknown.  We just sort of wandered through.  Nobody told us to get out.  Or really seemed to notice us at all for that matter.

These people could be famous!

These people could be famous!

Sadly, I can’t tell you what was filming.  I really wish I could.  It’s not because we were sworn to secrecy.  I just don’t know!  I’ve tried my hardest (read: light Googling), but I can’t find anything.  It could be a local Italian TV show or the next summer blockbuster.  I should have spent more time looking for names on trailer doors!  Stay tuned for more adventures by car that are mandatory to keep the battery charged.