Majorca, Spain pt 1

We had planned and bought train tickets for a trip to the Scottish Highlands as our last vacation during our time in London.  We thought we would hire a camper and "glamp" all over the Scottish countryside so we could see and get out as much as possible. However, the week before we left, we still had not found a camper and there were zero available hotels in the areas we wanted to visit.  Add to this the fact that the weather for that week was characteristically Scottish...lots of rain and cloudy skies.  So, we hopped online and looked for the best deals to the polar opposite of Scotland- a warm, sunny beach vacation!  Enter Mallorca...we found great last-minute deals to this tiny island off of the west coast of Spain.  Tickets lets find a hotel, right?  Not as easy as we had hoped, we spent hours scouring the internet for any availability with no luck.  A few days before our flights, we came across a brand new hotel that had just opened a couple of months prior and they had space.  It was a little out of our price range, but we decided to just go with it because we 1. needed a place to sleep and 2. go big or go home!  Our drive from the Palma airport was so nice- the island had an old Italian feel to me, with its old stone homes and colorful shutters on big pieces of land.  Plus, the hills were studded with old castles along our route- so beautiful!

We stayed in Canyamel, on the eastern side of Mallorca, about a 10 minute drive from the closest beach.  The hotel was incredible and they gave us some awesome upgrades because the place was empty.  We had two big rooms with our own private backyards and patios that overlooked the gorgeous grounds as well as the valley flanked by beautiful mountains all around.  The sunsets from our backdoor were something else.  Our first day was spent on this beautiful beach called Cala Mesquida, about a 20 minute drive from our hotel.  The sand was really nice, but the water was incredible- clear, turquoise and warm- my 3 favorites!  There weren't waves here, so we just relaxed and played a ton.  We swam clear to the rocks on the far side (pictured above) and explored the coves and sea life there as well.  After a few solid hours of ultimate beach relaxation, we headed back to the hotel to swim in the pool there (and rinse the sand off of us!).  That was pretty much our routine for the entire week.  

Brian and the older girls explored the rocks above the water and built stone towers.  Not a bad idea and not a bad backdrop.

While we relaxed at the hotel, Brian drove to this other beach about an hour away.  That water!  Who knew the Mediterranean was so perfect?!

Day two found us at a different beach also about an hour away that we'd heard good things about  The weather today was pretty windy, so the water was a bit more choppy, which provided some pretty entertaining waves for the girls to jump through.  Kate even found a place to do some cliff jumping here.  

There are my girls jumping waves above.

The gorgeous town of Santanyi was a pit stop on more than one occasion, given that it was situated right between several of the most stunning beaches.  Plus, it was a great place to stop and eat...we had some of the best crepes I've ever eaten right here in the town square.  We even went back a few days later to enjoy them again, but the cafe was closed. :(

I spy some sunburned backs.  We were really diligent with applying sunscreen, but our kids fair skin combined with too many hours in the sun made it difficult to avoid.  

Below is the hotel we stayed at.  Our rooms were right at the top of the hill here and the pools, below, were so nice!  

We loved staying at such a gorgeous place and seeing so much of this fantastic island. (Part II coming next)

Vienna, Austria

Vienna, being the capital of the once-grand Hapsburg empire for 640 years and the cradle of classical music, makes it a place hard to pass up. We mashed this visit with another trip to the Alps, which are a short few hours drive from this gorgeous city.  We flew in late, found our hotel and walked straight to the Stephensplatz, the main city square, to find a quick dinner.  Obviously, we had to try their sausages (aka hot dogs) that were everywhere.  We sat on the edge of the fountain and ate, while watching the sun go down and the city lights get brighter.  It was unusually hot and humid during our time, so we were often looking for water to drink too.  ;)  Vienna is brimming with gorgeous buildings, although they are so well taken care of that none of them look too old (though they are!).  We stayed about a 3 minute walk from stunning St. Stephen's Cathedral- it was so nice to be in the center of it all!

Our first day started with a run through the city for Brian and I- just wanted to make sure we see all of this place before we have to leave- and running really is the best way to check stuff off.  We then went to Schonbrunn Palace, where we would spend the rest of the day.  A former Hapsburg residence boasting almost 1500 rooms, some of which are adorned with hand-painted walls- this place, as they say, rivals only Versailles.  The pictures below were from the interior of , which had the most ornate and stunning rooms I have ever seen! Brian snuck a bunch of pics in with his phone (See below)

I'm not going to lie- this day was pretty hot and sweaty, so we spent as much time as we could in the shade of the gardens.  :)

Schonbrunn had a fantastic playground for families too- the girls loved running through both of their mazes and spent close to 3 hours playing on the equipment while Brian and I sat in the shade and relaxed.  

St. Stephen's Cathedral (above)...that tile roof is something else!

After going to church on Sunday- one of our favorite things (even though it was all in German!), we took ourselves back to the city center. We couldn't see an opera while we were there, so we opted for a tour of their famous State Opera House instead!  It was so interesting to learn about this place, stand on the stage, and get a peak into such a huge pastime.  

This is one of several intermission rooms (above)- each were decorated so differently, but who wouldn't want to grab a mid-opera snack in here?? :)

These two...always holding hands and giggling about something.  Its so much fun to watch them be each other's best friend.

The word "elaborate" sums the opera house up quite nicely.  Coffered ceilings, ornate reception rooms, and lots and lots of gold trim.  Its definitely a fancy night out if you get to see an opera here.

Gustav Mahler, a German-speaking Jew of humble circumstances, became one of the leading conductors of his generation.  He served as the director of the Opera House from 1897-1907, and had to convert to Catholicism in order to secure this post.  


These carriages are really popular in Vienna.  The horses, and their owners, hung out by the St. Stephen's Cathedral until they were hired each day.  You could definitely smell the horses as you approached, but the locals take such good care of this city and were constantly washing the waste off of the sidewalks.  Either way, we steered clear of any puddles when we walked by , but I give this city a ton of credit- for being a big city and a huge tourist destination, its one of the cleanest places we've been.

These gorgeous buildings are ALL over Vienna- I wish we could've gone in every single one.  We managed some self-guided walking tours all over the main parts of the city, making sure we got our bearings, as well as seeing as many of the sights as we could.  We also spent lots of hours walking through the gardens and letting the kids play at any playground we came across.  What a fantastic city!

Kate in Rome - Part II

Guest post by Kate (cont'd) ... Part I here

One of the things we did while we were in Rome was Vatican City! Vatican City is a city inside of Rome, so it was easily accessible, and just as beautiful! The first thing we did was stop by St. Peters Basilica. The thing I loved about St. Peters Basilica on the outside were the massive statues that lined the top of the building. After waiting in line on the outside of the Basilica, we went to the very top of the building, and then went inside of the church. 

We also stopped by one of Rome's most famous buildings, The Pantheon. This two thousand year old building was actually a remake of the Greek Parthenon, and was still jaw dropping in every way. Connected to the Pantheon was a large building in the shape of a dome, that was also very beautiful, and it even had an opening in the roof, which had the sun shining through it. 

This is the inside of the St. Peters Basilica when we were halfway up the top. I have to say, on the way up, dad and I got a little claustrophobic as the stairs started to tilt sideways. But it was all worth it, because the views were just absolutely amazing. 

As I said before, the view was amazing, and you could literally see everything within Vatican City. 

In London, the guards to the palaces and churches have some pretty interesting outfits on, but the guards to the Basilica were wearing something totally different and completely colorful, and it was really cool. 

 This is the Altare Della Patria, a war museum that was close to the Colosseum. We never went inside, but the building itself was just amazing. 

This was by far my favorite part, the Roman Forum. The Roman Forum is like an exhibit of some of the old ruins of ancient Rome, and because I had been studying Rome in school, the buildings were all the more meaningful. I loved imagining what could have been thousands of years ago, and picturing what life would have been like for the people that lived inside of the ruins. There were temples and homes and squares and old rocks lying everywhere, and it was just so cool, and an experience I will never forget. 

Another thing I loved about the Roman Forum was how they let the flowers and plant life grow freely, so there were always flowers and trees growing around and sometimes in the ruins. 

Overall, I loved my trip in Rome, and love my dad for taking me on this amazing adventure, and I'm so grateful that I get to go to all of these incredible places that I will remember for the rest of my life.