Friday, December 31, 2010
The other news? It appears that I either sprained my MCL or I tore my meniscus. What does that mean? For now, I am going to continue with the physical therapy for another couple of weeks. If it is a sprained MCL, that should be enough time for it to heal. If not, then I go in for an MRI to determine if it is a torn meniscus and if it is, most likely I will need surgery. It would be a day surgery. When I first heard the potential for surgery I did freak out, but now that I have had a day or so to process, I am doing much better with it. I’m still hoping and praying for a sprained MCL though! :)
Let's end with some more good news! I know have permission to walk, ride a stationary bike, swim, and do yoga (as long as it doesn't involve deep knee bends). This will go a long way in making me feel more normal.
It is definitely a process, but it's a process that I feel is finally starting to move in the right direction.
Note to self: next time you come across a hiking trail that is closed, turn around, even if you are in Italy! :)
- A beautiful crescent shaped moon
- Holy crap! The Huskies beat Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl!
- Homemade cinnamon rolls (I do have to say I will be glad when bring in holiday treat season is over! they are way too tempting!)
- A lot of "see you next year!"
- Slightly rundown from a cold I picked up.
Thursday, December 30, 2010
Speaking of 2011, don't forget to enter my giveaway for a 2011 calendar with pictures taken by yours truly. (I promise they aren't all Disney!)
From left to right, starting at the top row:
- January: Disneyworld with Jana, showing off our lovely ponchos!
- February: Cupcakes at my god-daughter's first birthday party
- March: Emily & Jessica at the finish line of the Princess Half Marathon
- April: Emily, Jana & Shilpa at Jana's wedding in Mexico
- May: Central Park
- June: Teacups at Disneyland
- July: Finishing the Midsummer Women's Triathlon at Blue Lake Park
- August: Jessica & Emily at a Mariner's game
- September: Finishing the Cottage Lake Triathlon
- October: Jana & Emily with Minnie at Mickey's Happy Halloween Party
- November: Yum! Gelato!
- December: Michelle, Emily & Stacy at the Osborne's Dancing Lights in Disneyworld
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
First up, BBQ Chicken Pizza...
I don't have a real recipe for this - but basically take some BBQ sauce, chicken, mozzarella, Gouda, and red onions and bake for awhile. Top with cilantro and enjoy! Yum!
Not too bad. So let's try Thai Chicken Pizza! Start with some peanut sauce, chicken, mozzarella, Gouda (starting to sound familiar?), green onions (and a few red ones for the heck of it), and bean sprouts and bake for awhile. Top with cilantro (and peanuts if you have them which I realized too late I did not) and enjoy!
Check cooking off the list for December! Only 4 more recipes to try...
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
The rules are simple – leave a comment on this post by 6 PM on January 5th and you will be entered into a drawing to be held at 6:01 PM. Or thereabouts! :) One winner will be chosen by a random number generator.
You will miss out on the first week or so of January, but hopefully it will still be a fun calendar!
Sunday, December 26, 2010
When I found out Michelle was going to WDW right before Christmas, I asked if I could crash their trip! A chance to see Michelle plus Mickey seemed to good to be true! (And if memory serves, this happened last year as well!) Our friend Stacy also decided to come with us.
Saturday morning I was just about to leave for the airport when the lights went out! At least they went out after my alarm went off, so I didn't oversleep. So needless to say the flight was bumpy. But finally I arrived in Orlando and made my way to the hotel and met up with Stacy.
Sunday morning we started off at Animal Kingdom and met up with Michelle!! A safari, Lion King & Nemo shows, and the yeti later we were off to Magic Kingdom for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party!! At the party you could get cocoa and cookies and you'd better believe I tried to eat my ticket's worth of cocoa and cookies! Well, okay not quite my ticket's worth. We didn't end up riding too many rides, but watched parades, fireworks & danced with Goofy.
Monday we started off at Hollywood where our fast pass and reservation magic were nowhere to be found, except for Tower of Terror. Now the tower and I have a love/hate relationship. But I have faced my fear (for the most part, it still scares me), and can go on it. It is Michelle's favorite ride, so basically I only ride the tower when I'm at Disney with her. We were the only fools to ride it which meant we had 5 fast passes at our disposal. Famous last words by Emily? I'll go once. Once turned into twice, which really didn't shock me. The first time my nerves were alleviated by the woman behind me who exclaimed ”can I get off, I really have to pee!". I was also able to grab the side and hang on for dear life. Second time was worse. I swear we never went up but it was a continual fall. I didn't have a handle readily available so I grabbed Michelle! We finished up Hollywood by watching Fantasmic (my fave!) and the Osbourne lights which were incredible!!
It was extra magic (until 3AM!!) at Magic Kingdom so we said goodbye to the girls and grandma and Michelle, Stacy & I headed over there where we knocked out a lot of rides and froze!! Would we make it until 3AM? We were basically walking out when we realized it was close to the lunar eclipse so we stood on Main Street and watched the eclipse. It was super cool! And so we walked out of the Magic Kingdom right before 3 AM!
As you can imagine, Tuesday we were exhausted and slept in. We had a loose plan to meet up with Michelle at Epcot later. We took it easy, went to Downtown Disney to do some shopping. The late night before had really taken its toll and we were moving slow. We ended up not meeting up with Michelle. Instead, we took our time at Downtown Disney and when we finished up we made our way over to Magic Kingdom. It was beyond crowded, so we walked around, took a few pictures, met Mickey & Minnie and decided to call it a night, especially since we had made plans to meet Michelle a little on the earlyish side tomorrow morning.
The alarm went off Wednesday and I somewhat reluctantly got out of my warm bed. Stacy decided to catch a few more zzz's. I walked around the Magic Kingdom, watching it wake up. The line for Peter Pan was non-existent, which never happens! So I hopped on to say hello to Peter, Wendy & the Lost Boys. When Michelle arrived, we fast passed Space Mountain and then enjoyed the short lines. Stacy met up with us in time to ride Space Mountain. We finished up and rode the Monorail over to Epcot. After Nemo & Crush, we split from Michelle and toured through the countries. In America we stumbled across a candlelight processional and so we stayed to listen. Brad Garrett was the guest narrator. It was really amazing!! And helped put me in the Christmas spirit! We met up with Michelle to watch the fireworks. As I was leaving the next day I said my goodbyes in case I didn't meet up with them tomorrow.
Thursday, my final day. I finished packing and decided to go with Stacy back to Hollywood to say goodbye one last time. From there it was time to head to the airport and enjoy Chick-fil-A for lunch. How do I love Chick-fil-A!! After my lunch I walked through security to my gate. Little did I know, this was where the real adventure was going to begin. And let me just say I am extremely disappointed with United. Not with the flight crew, but with the customer service once I landed. There was a mechanical issue on my flight leaving Orlando and we ended up sitting at the gate for a long time and then we were underway! But wait, it wasn't fixed right so then it was back to the gate. Finally after over an hour and a half we were underway. I knew catching my connecting flight was going to be tough. The flight attendant was extremely helpful, showing me on the map where I would have to run. The pilot attempted several times to contact the ground to find out about connections, but was never able to get a hold of them. Once we landed, I took off running towards my next gate. Oh, and there was no customer service agent to meet our flight. Really? A flight close to 2 hours late with over 80 people connecting, and no one is there to meet the flight? Well, my knee basically help up through the mad dash through the airport (although it may not have been my best decision). I made it 5 or 6 minutes before my flight was supposed to leave, but they had already closed the doors. The gate agent was borderline rude to me and as I stood there trying to catch my breath I had to ask her where I needed to go next. The next customer service agent was not at all helpful. All I was looking for was a little sympathy but I got nothing. I ended up in a bathroom crying because I was so tired and so frustrated. My next flight took off finally 3 hours later than my original flight. Oh, but wait. One, it was oversold (which again shouldn't they have held the earlier flight?) and two, they held it for 2 passengers. Now I know there are many decisions that go into holding a flight or not, but really? There were 4 passengers connecting on the original Seattle flight and they didn't hold it, but yet they hold the next flight for 2 passengers? It was an additional slap in the face. I arrived home close to midnight (which was 3AM Eastern time). Considering all the other flight issues people are having across the nation, I should be grateful I did get home in time for Christmas. And yes, I am grateful, it just takes me awhile to get there. :) I feel much better now after I have complained my little heart out.
P.S. RR - MM says hi and see ya real soon!
Saturday, December 25, 2010
High school kid #1: I'm so glad I found you!
High school kid #2: What, were you lost?
High school kid #1: No, I wasn't lost. I just didn't know where I was.
Ha! I was cracking up! Because, really, isn't that the definition of being lost? It is super easy to get completely lost in Venice, but the good thing is, it is an island, so you can't ever get too lost.
Now, where was I? Oh yes, on the train to Florence. Jessica & Nilufer both conked out on the train (and yes, I have pictures, but I have promised they won't get posted). We arrived and followed the directions from the website to the hotel. Our hotel was on a somewhat busy street, but literally just down the street from the Duomo! How's that for location? We were checked in and ready to go in record time, probably because we were starving! We got a recommendation for a nearby restaurant, Trattoria Za-Za, (which was also a Rick recommendation). Surprisingly, I once again did NOT have pizza! Instead I had gnocchi. If you ask any of my previous travel companions, they will tell you in Italy I almost exclusively eat pizza, and margherita pizza at that. So this was a big step for me.
Since we were so close, we decided to go to the Duomo after lunch and work off all those calories by climbing to the top of the dome. I have never climbed this dome, I've only climbed to the top of the campanile (i.e. bell tower, bu t it has great views of the dome itself). I lost count both going up and coming down, so I will have to rely on the sign that said it was 463 steps. The view was beautiful! After pausing to admire the view from every angle and of course capturing those views in numerous photos, we walked down the stairs and visited the inside of the Duomo.
We walked over to the San Lorenzo market and did some shopping. I love shopping in Florence! It started raining and it was a little too early for dinner so we went back to the hotel for a bit. Dinner was another Rick recommendation, Trattoria Nerone Pizzeria. When we arrived at the restaurant, I realized I had eaten here before! The decor was a dead giveaway. I couldn't go two meals without pizza, so pizza it was. I had every intention of ordering Pizza Funghi (mushroom pizza) but when the waitress came, Pizza Margherita popped out of my mouth. Either way, the pizza was good.
And then we went back to the hotel and to bed. Wait! No gelato? Just kidding. Of course we stopped and got gelato before going back to the hotel. Gelato flavors: hazelnut, peanut butter, dolce latte.
How did it get to be Tuesday already? We had our first breakfast at our new hotel. There wasn't freshly baked croissants. Boo. But there was cappuccino and hard boiled eggs! Our first stop today was to visit my statue boyfriend, David. Be still my heart. While I enjoy paintings, I am blown away by sculptures. The amount of emotion that can be portrayed by a hunk of stone is amazing to me. We came, we saw, we drooled over David. And after seeing the real David, we walked over to Piazza Della Signoria to see the fake David before continuing on to Ponte Vecchio (my favorite bridge in the world!). A mini photo shoot ensued. What can I say, Ponte Vecchio is very photogenic!
Then it was time for, you guessed it, gelato! Dessert before lunch? You betcha! The problem of telling you all the flavors I ate is that you see how much I ate!! We sat at a cafe at the base of the bridge. Gelato flavors: pistachio, strawberry, peanut butter.
We did a little window shopping along Ponte Vecchio. And since we had already had dessert, it must be time for have lunch. We walked towards Santa Croche, and had lunch a block away from the church. I had salmon gnocchi. Interesting is all I have to say...
We visited the church and then walked up to Piazzale Michelangelo for a spectacular view over the city. I didn't get an accurate step count, but around 160 some odd stairs. We got up there just in time to catch some daylight before the sun set and the city was bathed in twilight, which I think is an even more magical view of Florence.
We walked back down and did a little more shopping before heading to dinner. I didn't write down the name of the restaurant. We split soup for an appetizer - it was delicious!! I had spaghetti for my main course, which was so-so. But the soup was really good! And of course we stopped for gelato on the way home. Gelato flavor: nutella.
Had I been able to look into the future and see how today was going to end up, I might have slept in instead of getting up early to catch the train to Cinque Terre. I won't dwell too much on the "fall" since I've already gone on and on about it. Since we were up so early there was no breakfast, so we ate at, dare I say it, McDonalds. Eh, you gotta do what you gotta do. We caught our train and a few hours later we arrived at Monterosso, the town furthest north in Cinque Terre. It was here we found out the trail had been closed due to excessive rains. But we were here and others were on the trail, so we figured we'd go for it. Lots and lots and lots of stairs, and beautiful views. There were olive trees and lemon trees. There was the washed out part of the trail which caused my downfall. And there was the remaining hike to Vernazza. In Vernazza, we had lunch. Nilufer & I split gnocchi and Pizza Funghi. Oh my word. The gnocchi was so good!! I also had a Diet Coke. I gave up Diet Coke a long time ago, but will have it on vacation (or when I am desparate). With my knee in pain and me hopped up on ibuprofen, wine was probably not a good idea. Step up Diet Coke. Or Coca Light as it is called over there. I do love my Coca Light!
It became pretty obvious we were not going to be able to hike through all 5 towns and so caught the train to the next town, Corniglia. The town itself is high up from the train station. My knee and the fact it started to absolute pour rain gave us good excuses to take the shuttle bus up to the main town. We did a quick walk through before taking the shuttle back down to catch the train to the next town, Manarola. It was now quite apparent I was once again not going to make it to all 5 towns. While I need to put hiking to all 5 towns in the Cinque Terre on my Life List, I have this feeling it may not be in the cards for me. We watched the sunset in Manarola before eating gelato. It was not the best gelato, which is quite sad. Gelato flavors: nutella, cappuccino, hazelnut. And then it was time to head back to Florence.
We ended up having dinner at Trattoria Za-Za, since we knew where it was and it was close to the hotel. Part of me wishes we had gotten pizza to go and eaten back in our room. But then I wouldn't have had their soup appetizer, which was really good! Somewhere along the way I became a soup person, especially in Tuscany. And you might think that splitting soup would be hard, but it wasn't - the soup was really think and hearty. My main course was Pizza Margherita. We had no dessert - can you believe that? But going back to the room and not walking was more important to me at that point.
Happy Thanksgiving!! Several people throughout the day wished us Happy Thanksgiving. We had breakfast at the hotel before setting off to find the bus station. I have been wanting to go to Siena for awhile now but it never worked out - until now! (Check #11 off my 33 Things list.) The countryside out the window of the bus was so picturesque and almost stereotypical Tuscany.
We arrived in Siena and our "luck" continued. The bank ATM machine ate Jessica's card. At least the ATM was attached to a bank and we were able to get her card back. Whew!
The streets in Siena were narrow and windy and eventually let out into Il Campo, an absolutely gorgeous square! There was a tower to climb, and I was game even with my knee. After all, when is the next time I'll be in Siena? Unfortunately the tower was closed due to "security issues". We think the issues were related to the student demonstrations. A wedding had just finished and the bride & groom were taking pictures in the square. The bride was beautiful. From there we walked over to the Duomo, which was absolutely beautiful with white and green stripes.
Lunch was at Locando Garibaldi, a tiny little restaurant not far from Il Campo. I had lasagna, which was probably the best lasagna I had the entire trip. I also had some vegetable soup - see I told you I am turning into a soup person! :)
After lunch we did some shopping and wandering before stopping for our favorite pastime, gelato of couse! Gelato Flavors: mango, strawberry, and banana
It was then time to leave Siena and head back to Florence for a little more shopping and then dinner. We had dinner at Trattoria la Burrasca. They had pumpkin soup and turkey!! I think just for the Americans! :) In any case, we ate it up. It wasn't quite your average Thanksgiving turkey, but it was still nice to eat on actual Thanksgiving.
And then it was back to the hotel to pack. Ugh! Why did I buy so much?
To be continued in Roma...
|Fake David (but still beautiful)|
|Emily, Jessica & Nilufer on Ponte Vecchio|
|Overlooking Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo|
|Emily in Cinque Terre|
|Emily & Nilufer pretending to be scared of the washed out trail|
|Aftermath of Emily vs the cliff|
|Il Campo in Siena|
|Turkey & pumpkin soup on Thanksgiving|
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Monday, December 20, 2010
We spent the day at Animal Kingdom, going on safari and watching shows and of course visiting my pal, the yeti.
And then it was time to go to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas party, where we didn't ride too many rides but instead danced at Goofy's dance party and watched fireworks and parades.
Sent using BlackBerry
Friday, December 17, 2010
- Tangled (in 3D no less) with Diane!!
- Rat a tat tat of the drums as the Snowflake Lane drum line passed right by me
- Caramel covered pretzels - yum!!
- Cinnamon & nutmeg
- Excited as tomorrow I fly out to - wait for it - Orlando! Yes, it's another visit to Mickey! This time to catch up with one of my BFFs, Michelle & her family.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Instead of running 8 miles, my sister and I got a massage. We had bought a Groupon a while ago for a massage and finally used it. It was a smidge on the fru-fru side, but it was nice and relaxing. Afterwards, we had lunch at Portage Bay Cafe. Yum!! I had Whole Wheat Apple pancakes, topped with all sorts of goodies from their topping bar. And real eggnog!
We met Kris (her husband) at a local farmer's market. I picked up some pumpkin butter and spiced blackberry wine. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with the pumpkin butter, but I know I'll figure something out. I'm excited about the wine, because you can warm it up which I am hoping will taste like mulled wine. I was a little overwhelmed with all the other vegetable choices and I had no shopping list. Maybe next time.
The rest of my day was spent running errands and doing Christmas shopping (I think I'm just about done).
Friday, December 10, 2010
- Harry Potter 7 - I had really wanted to re-read it before watching the movie but that didn't happen. I really liked the movie, although there were a few little things I wish they could have touched upon (the friendship with Kreacher) but I know there is limited time and they did touch upon a lot!!
- Christmas music!!
- Ranch dressing
- Peppermint Cupcakes
- Awkward as I try to sleep on my back and keep my knee still
Thursday, December 09, 2010
- Winter Wonderland
- I'll Be Home for Christmas
- O Come All Ye Faithful
- All I Want For Christmas Is You
- White Christmas
- Jingle Bell Rock
- O Holy Night
- O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
- We Three Kings
- Happy Holidays
- Santa Baby
- Christmas Wrapping
- Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
- Carol of the Bells
- Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy
Tuesday, December 07, 2010
It is interesting to reflect back on a trip once it is over. All the planning and anticipation compressed into a short time span. So let's reflect, shall we?
Jessica & I flew out very early Thursday morning (Nilufer was staying a few extra days and so was flying a different airline). I once again found myself in the position of needed a few more miles to earn elite status on Continental so Jessica & I flew US Airways due to their partnership with Continental. (Sound familiar? Yup - I will be elite on both Continental & Alaska next year. Woohoo!!) Slight mistake. I have a new rule for myself - only fly non-US based airlines to Europe. Seriously you are going to charge $5 for a headset to watch movies on a trans-atlantic flight? And no socks or toothbrush? Besides my complaining about the airline itself, our flights were fine, if a little bumpy. I don't like it when it's really bumpy on the big planes, but we landed safely! (On a complete side note, I don't think the United / Continental merger will be good. The little things that made Continental stand out in my mind are starting to slowly go by the wayside.)
We met up with Nilufer at the Venice airport (our flights landed within 30 minutes of each other) and it was time for vacation to start! A ride on a bus, followed by a ride on a water bus and then we were at our hotel. We checked in, freshened up a little and were off to explore. It had been a long flight and a long couple of days leading up to vacation so it ended up being an early night. But not before gelato! Gelato flavors: tiramisu, hazelnut, pistachio
We woke up and headed over to the main hotel (we were staying in the annex) for breakfast. Yum! Fresh baked rolls & croissants and delicious cappuccinos! With our tummies full we set off to catch the vaperetto (water bus) to cruise the Venetian lagoon. First stop was Torcello, reputedly the birthplace of Venice but now mostly uninhabited. We walked along the canal to see the church and amazing mosaics!!
Our next stop was Burano, known for its colorful houses and lace. We didn't end up seeing much lace, but we had fun with all the colorful houses. There was a lace store with the name Emilia, so of course I had to go in there! We had lunch at a little restaurant, my first pizza margherita of the trip. After lunch we caught the boat to Murano, known for its blown glass. It was getting dark by the time we arrived, but we still had plenty of time to shop and shop we did. We took the boat back to our hotel and dropped off our packages before heading out to find dinner. Dinner was a Rick recommendation (after the first Rick recommendation had no availability). Lasagna - can you believe it? Well, their pizza cook called in sick so pizza wasn't even an option. Gelato flavors: coffee & hazelnut
Today, it was time to explore Venice. Sirens had gone off in the morning, which we found out meant there was flooding. Flooding added another element to our (my) navigation. One wrong turn and detour and we finally made it to Ca' Rezzonico, a former palace, but now a museum. The ballroom was beautiful!! After the museum, we took the boat around Venice. It was definitely a rainy & windy boat ride, but finally we arrived at St. Mark's Square. We were hungry and Jessica & Nilufer saw Ristarante Principessa (with pink decorations) and thought we should eat there. After all, it was a restaurant for Princesses, right? Besides, we were cold & wet. It was going to be iffy given it's location but thought it wouldn't be that bad. Well, it was. But at least we had a respite from the rain.
I love St. Mark's, it is one of my favorite churches. I really like the Byzantine influence. We walked up to the roof and tried to avoid the rain drops. I really enjoyed the view, gazing out of St. Mark's Square. Next was the Doge's Palace, and the Bridge of Sighs was open! Last time I was there it was closed for renovations. We walked over the Bridge of Sighs to see the prisons. But unlike the prisoners, we were able to walk back across the bridge. Whew! One of these days I am going to do the Secret Itineraries tour at the Doge's Palace! The palace is beautiful by itself, but walking through the secret passageways and hidden doors would be so cool I think.
It was growing dark so we walked around and did some shopping. Dinner was at a restaurant near the hotel, which was quite good! I wish we had found it earlier. Gelato flavors: hazelnut, tiramisu, strawberry, banana, pistachio. Um, yes that would be 5 flavors, but not at all at once. We went to a gelato place more than once today. Hello, my name is Emily & I love gelato. Besides, it's vacation, right?
Our last morning in Venice - we were up early and finished packing in record time. Which meant we were able to walk back over to the Rialto Bridge one last time before eating one last breakfast at our hotel and catching the water bus to the train station.
Farewell Venice! On to Florence...
Sunday, December 05, 2010
I hopped the BART into downtown. And then, being in San Fran, what else could I do but ride the cable car down to Fisherman's Wharf. My plan for eating a nice, big steaming bowl of clam chowder somehow transformed into taking an open top bus tour around the city. Boy were there a lot of people dressed up in Santa outfits!! Everywhere you looked there were Santas! Top the day off with some meandering along the waterfront and walking up and down a few hills before back to the airport and home.
I climbed back up to the trail and assessed the damage. Lots of scrapes and my pants were caked with mud. I could tell something was wrong with my knee, but I could walk on it. The rest of the trip I was moving at a very different speed, but I tried not to let my knee slow me down too much.
Makes for a great story, doesn't it? :) Remember that one time I fell off a cliff in Italy?
When I got home, I visited my doctor. Bruised was the diagnosis. No running for the next month. And when I asked about the half in February, my doctor said no. Talk about a balloon deflating. I had started to suspect this might be the case, but to hear it in no uncertain terms was a blow.
The next day I had an appointment with my chiropractor. (Side note: when did I become a person with a chiropractor? But she really does keep my body tuned up!) Surprisingly, she didn't nix the half marathon right away. Instead, she recommended we wait until my next appointment and see how the knee is progressing with ice and rest.
So that's where I'm at right now. Waiting. And icing. Part of me wants to just let it go and catch the race in 2012. But another part of me is not quite ready to give it up. Why is this such a big deal to me? I really don't know. It is just a race. There are many other races - NYC Half (although that one is probably out too), Seattle Rock n' Roll, Disneyland Half, etc. But it is a race I signed up for, and had (barely) started training for so I think it is the commitment factor. I had committed to this race (even though this is out of my control). My knee will heal. There will be many other races. It is not a bad injury, it could have been much worse. I mean, Mandi fractured her knee cap.
Okay, I'm just about done with my pity party. And then it'll be time to make some stinking lemonade with this lemon.
Friday, December 03, 2010
- It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas
- Husky & Cougar jokes - it must be Apple Cup time
- The anti-inflammatory lotion I am using has a bit of a mint flavor
- Eggnog lattes! Tis the season, after all.
- The effects of all the pizza and gelato consumed in Italy. But it was oh so worth it! :)