Amanda Shields Travel: Blog en-us (C) Amanda Shields Travel (Amanda Shields Travel) Fri, 25 Nov 2016 23:50:00 GMT Fri, 25 Nov 2016 23:50:00 GMT Amanda Shields Travel: Blog 88 120 Venice|Travel Oh have stolen my heart. This beautiful, romantic city in it's elegant state of decay and it's seductive charm has swept me away with it's beautiful water and glorious piazzas...there will never be another like it. A city so exquisite yet so comfortable, built by farmers and fisherman who fled the mainland to escape the Germanic and Hun invasions, who became wealthy merchants and built some grand houses and palaces. It's architecture, a blend of eastern and western styles is perfectly called "Venetian Gothic."
We decided to get away from Napoli for the New Year this year. And although no other place on Earth beats the excitement and insanity that is Naples on New Year's Eve, Venice will sweep you away at any time of year. I'm so excited to share our adventures with you! This trip was short, but so very special! Prepare to ooh and aww over the wonders of this magical city!



Our first morning in Venice (New Year's Eve), I woke up about 5:30AM to head down to St. Mark's Square in hopes of catching some sunrise photos. I had been watching the tide schedules and knew that high tide was going to coincide with the sunrise this particular morning and was secretly hoping I'd get to experience Venice's "Acqua Alta" (literally: High Water"). "Acqua Alta" is a natural phenomenon in Venice when the tide is higher than usual and it floods much of the low-lying areas. The city puts up scaffolding-like walkways for people to cross because even when it floods, life in Venice continues. These metal "Bridges" can be seen folded up and stacked in all corners of the city just waiting for the next time they're needed. But this high tide was just a normal one and we never got to experience Venice's famous Acqua Alta. I was prepared too! I even packed my rain boots! HA! It was also terribly cloudy and overcast, so I saw our glowing orange star rise and look as if it was being pulled from the horizon...then it completely disappeared. :/
But I did get some other pretty shots and saw a new day dawn in the peace (and cold) of Venezia!


This was one of the only photos I got of the actual sunrise. It wasn't the pretty light and spectacular colors I was hoping for, but every new dawn is a gift and this one was even more special.

Before I left to go back to our hotel (and my sleeping husband), I braved through the cold just a little longer to get a few mores photos. By the time the sun came up my fingers were totally numb through my gloves, but I don't scare that easily. ;) St. Mark's Square is unequivocally the most breath-taking and elegant square I have seen in my travels of Europe, ever!

After a few more photos around St. Mark's Square without all the crowds that were sure to come in a few hours, I hopped back on the vaporetto and headed back to our apartment at the northern end of The Grand Canal..and of course snapped some photos along the ride.

One of my favorites parts of Venice and favorite things to photograph is just daily life there. Anything other cities have, Venice has...just on a boat! They have trash boats, work boats, postal boats, cargo boats, delivery boats! And instead of buses, we rode vaporetti! There was even a small market selling fresh fruits and veggies on a boat (you'll see that soon).

There was even a Burger King! HAHA! It was the best-looking Burger King I've ever seen, but that still didn't convince us to eat there. ;)

There are well over 400 bridges in Venice (and I swear it felt like we crossed every single one). And every channel was just as picturesque as the one before. And here's the floating market I was telling you about.


After two and a half years in Europe, we both feel like we've seen way too many art museums and churches to last a lifetime, so we've started looking for more unusual, off-the-beaten-path places to see. We found just that with this great little museum dedicated to Leonardo DaVinci's inventions. It was very hands-on (always a plus for big kids like us) and you could see how these inventions actually worked and what they were used for. It just served to impress me even more with the works of DaVinci. He was finding solutions to problems that didn't even exist yet!
The hubby modeled some of the inventions for my pictures and then I got "The Look"...which STILL absolutely cracks me up every.single.time I look at this picture!!!! HAHAHAHA! So I handed him the camera to let him take some pictures for a change.

More pretty bridges!



Another off-the-beaten-path place we found was this book store called Libreria Acqua Alta (literally means "High Water Bookstore"). There were books covering every inch of the place, scattered everywhere. There was even a gondola in the middle of the store with books in it. Then we walked to the back and there was a staircase made of books! They even made hand-railings out of oars and wanted you to climb up.

The streets of Naples have NOTHING on Venice! It was soooo easy to get lost in the tiny little streets and alleys. We used the maps on our phones if there was a specific place we wanted to find and STILL got lost...a lot! (See my navigator pictured above patiently waiting for me to finish taking pictures)! ;)

We headed back to St. Mark's Square, which equals MORE PICTURES and MORE GONDOLAS!!!


We finally got our gondola ride!!!!!!! Floating down the back canals of Venice was so perfect...even the seagull hanging out next to our gondola agreed!

Our gondolier's name was Franco and he was great! He has been a gondolier for 25 years. He said he couldn't sing, but he was a huge Star Wars fan (we picked the perfect gondolier) so he whistled the Star Wars "Imperial March" for us! Then a few minutes later his cell phone rang and sure enough, it was the "Imperial March!" We had to laugh. After that, Chris officially named our gondola "The Imperial Gondola!" HAHAHA!!  Franco was almost as big of a geek as us...almost. ;)
Best quote of the day:

"A gondola is kind of like a girlfriend. You can borrow one, but it's best to get your own." ~ Franco the Gondolier.


That's Franco! And that's the house where Marco Polo was born. It's now a popular theater in Venice.

And then just like that, it was over too soon. We hopped back on the vaporetto to go back to the apartment, rest and warm-up before heading back out for dinner and then fireworks!

It was the PERFECT time of day for photos where the sun is low, shadows long and the light is warm.


This is a typical vaporetto stop

The lovely Grand Canal and Rialto Bridge.

Pretty much says it all...

This is the area our hotel was in. Still beautiful and not as touristy.

Then it was time to prepare for the celebration. We knew the vaporetti stopped running just before midnight, so we could have gotten TO St. Mark's Square for the fireworks, but it would have been a long and very cold walk back to our hotel. So we opted for the halfway point and decided to ring in the new year on the Rialto Bridge. We faced the general direction of St. Mark's and hoped we could see the fireworks from the bridge. Too many buildings in the way so we only got to see the very tip of a few explosions over them. HAHA! Oh well, we had a good crowd, there were some sparklers and a few small firecracker pops in the streets, but best of all- we got to celebrate 2015 in Venice!!!! And the view wasn't bad either! :D

This photo was a long exposure, meaning my camera shutter stayed open a long time (in this case 25 seconds) to allow more light in, so those streaks of light you see are passing boats!

We got wild and crazy at New know, drinking water, staying hydrated and everything. HAHA! And on the walk back, we passed a crepes shop that was still open so I HAD to get a Nutella Crepe!! They are amazing and I don't get them often! Also, the lady who made my crepe told me I was the first customer of the year! YAY!



The next day was spent just walking around and getting lost in the ancient streets of Venice. This was probably my favorite place to get pictures! We crossed this bridge several times and I had to get pictures every time - it was a different time of day every time we crossed it! That changes EVERYTHING!! :D


We found a music museum that was FREE to enter and we saw chamber orchestra concerto being advertised. We always try to see a classical music performance on our's kind of become a tradition. So we got tickets and the music and venue were perfect! The group is called Interpreti Venezian (Venetian Interpretation) and they performed Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons." Sigh...always brings me back to our orchestra days where me and my husband met a very long time ago! :)


We were so impressed! And the cellist was amazing and so entertaining to just watch. He really got into it! Check out their Facebook page here and their website. They will be on tour around Europe and Japan for most of the year.


Here's another view from my favorite spot pictured a little earlier...this time at night! :)


Back at the neighborhood of our hotel! Holiday lights still up!
Venezia, we didn't get enough time with one-another, but one day I will be back..


]]> (Amanda Shields Travel) Italia Italy New Year bridges gondola landscapes travel venezia venice Sat, 10 Jan 2015 12:34:25 GMT
Christmas in Italy|Personal "Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas perhaps..means a little bit more."

~ The Grinch


     This was our third and last Christmas in Italy, so we wanted to make it special. We stayed close to home since we're going to go all-out for New Year's this year. Italy knows how to do Christmas right. It's one of the things I will miss the most about living in Europe. It's about tradition and celebration, family and friends. It's a bittersweet time knowing it will be our last in least for a little while, but next year we'll be back with our family and my husband has vowed to do Christmas up big next year..which admittedly surprises even me! HAHA! This year we went some new places and some favorite places to celebrate this magical time of year.

At the end of November, we visited Castello di Limatola to see the beautiful Christmas market inside the castle!

It wouldn't be an Italian Christmas market without the Presepe.

Along with the hand-made Presepe, we of course must have the silly Pulcinella.

And merchants hand-making their wares!

This guy just follows me everywhere I go! ;)

No matter where I go, if there's a suit of armor I can get a picture with I do! HAHA!
The castle was perfect and adorable! I am sooo glad we went early! :)

My next stop was none other than Christmas Alley with all it's beautiful hand-crafted items...and even some cheap holiday trinkets! It's probably my favorite place in Naples, even when it's not the holiday season. You CANNOT visit Napoli without a stop at Christmas Alley and it's mandatory at Christmas!

Big and detailed Presepi! Oh how I wish I could take even a small one home, but alas US Customs won't allow the native moss and plants in their borders...

Lights along Christmas Alley and all the way down Spaccanapoli! Italy takes soccer very seriously as you can see! :)


Via San Gregorio Armeno is the official street name for Christmas Alley and of course I didn't leave empty-handed. I adore the hand-made tamburelli (tambourines). So I had to add another to my collection. What better than one with Pulcinella walking down Via San Gregorio Armeno?

My husband and I always open our gifts to each other on Christmas Eve...because we're both big kids and can't wait until Christmas morning! HAHA! We didn't break out the camera for everything, but he made sure to get photos of me opening this one. He not only wrapped the outside box, but duct taped AND super-glued the inside box and it was a Doctor Who t-shirt (because what else??). He also got a tad** trigger-happy with the camera...these few photos were edited down from over 70!! O_o


One of his gifts was a bunch of electronic comic books. Since they were electronic, I downloaded the app to his tablet, wrote down the instructions & account info on a piece of paper, stuck it between his tablet and keyboard and wrapped the whole thing!! HAHA! It didn't take him long to start reading!

This is literally the only photo Athena would let me take of her with my camera. Every time I so much as raise my camera to my eye, she turns her head and will eventually run and hide. I think all the modeling has scarred her for life! HAHA! *Disclaimer** - she has never modeled for free...she ALWAYS gets treats and love with every shot...**


Our last Christmas Event was the beautiful city of Salerno and it's Christmas lights!

Penguins on the rocks and a spectacular tree in the piazza!

Our friend Sharon and her son Adam joined us! :)

Every alleyway, every piazza, every street is something new!


Then of course, the main attraction is Il Giardino Incantato (The Enchanted Garden).
Some of the displays are the same every year, but many are different. And this year it seemed to be a fairy-tale theme..Peter Pan & Hook, Cinderella's carriage and more! They even had Big Ben (Been there, Dad!!!) ;) We thought the day after Christmas might not be so crowded, but boy were we sooo so very wrong!

Remember how I said my husband and I are big kids? These are our Lego Advent Calendars! His is Star Wars. Here is Darth Claus and Santa Trooper and of course C-Tree-P-O! ;)
Mine is the Lego City know Santa standing idly by with a Mince Pie in his hand while a burglar makes a get-away with the jewels! HAHA!

We will miss Italy next year, but we will never forget our wonderful experiences we've had and the amazing places we've been. I don't know when, but we'll be back one day.


]]> (Amanda Shields Travel) Christmas Italia Italy Naples Napoli holiday lights Sat, 27 Dec 2014 23:58:55 GMT

“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not.”
 ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

A dream come true, extraordinary, meaningful, moving...that's what this journey was. When I was young, I saw a photo of a castle surrounded by clouds and mist in the light of the early morning. I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen! I didn't even know if it was real! I soon came to find out that not only was it real, it was nestled in the mountains of Bavaria, Germany. I had figurines and huge framed photos of this gorgeous castle all the way into adulthood. But until moving to Italy, it was just a dream. Not something I never thought I would ever actually see in my lifetime. Once we received the orders to Italy, it became a real possibility and I swore that if we went nowhere else while we were stationed here, I would get to Neuschwanstein Castle. After two years in Europe, we made it! We went on a day trip with a tour group and I was a little annoyed at the disorganization of the whole thing. And it was a decent trip out there...a 2 hour train ride, then a bus ride to the bottom of the mountain. While I was sitting on the bus and we turned a corner and my castle came into view all my frustration fell away and I cried! Just reliving the memories at Neuschwanstein makes me tear up now just talking about it! Our whole trip was amazing! It certainly wasn't without it's ups and downs, but it all added to an incredible experience from Munich to Berlin that involved a God-awful lot of walking and hiking. Planes, trains, automobiles...and bikes would certainly sum up this journey. I learned that Munich and Florence have a couple things in common and I also discovered that you realize what you're grateful for when you have to sleep on a train platform for 5 hours. Enjoy the photos and the journey along with us! :) 


My first glimpse of this fascinating country!


Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall) in Marienplatz. 



A Maypole in the market advertising what vendors are there. The sign at the bottom is a commemoration of the Germany Beer Purity Law. It was signed on 30 November 1487 when the Duke of Bavaria specified that only water, malt and hops can be used in the beer! 



Our next stop was St. Peter's Church. The church itself was nice, they had a bejeweled saint behind a glass case. That's pretty cool.

But the real reason to go in there was to climb the tower and see the spectacular views of Munich.


We came back down the 300+ steps to see the Glockenspeil show celebrate the wedding of the Duke of Bavaria. Complete with jousting knights! 


These two were so talented! I don't always tip, but I'm partial to the fiddle and it was gorgeous! This is the 2nd nose rub I've given this bronze pig! My first was at Fontana del Porcellino in Florence, Italy! This wasn't the only thing that Munich and Florence both shared. ;) 


We had some summer showers that gave me a pretty rainbow! And that's my husband patiently waiting while I take some photos and play on the lily pads! (You can tell who the grown-up is in our relationship) HAHA! 


The next day was the day!!!! We were going to Neuschwanstein Castle! And got to see lots of farm animals along the way from the train!

This was IT!!!!! My first glimpse at my dream castle!!!!!!


I'm going to apologize in advance for the ridiculous amount of photos you are about to see of this castle! :) 

I feel like I missed out by not taking them up on this offer! ;) 



Hohenschwangau Castle (left) was King Ludwig's (builder of Neuschwanstein) boyhood home. The right is a Jagerhaus, I think that speaks for itself! :) 


More Maypoles! I think they're adorable! 

Lake Panorama at the bottom of the mountain! It even had SWANS (it was so perfect)! Fun fact: "Neuschwanstein" means "New Swan Stone" and "Hohenschwangau" means "High Swan region/land" and they are both decorated with swans!

Just walking up the hill..Oh hey there!! Getting closer! 


Once inside the castle walls after entering through the main gate, we received our time-stamped tickets that told us what time we could check in. I had 10 minutes to get up some stairs and take more picture of the inner courtyard! 

And the photo frenzy began! 


I don't know if he legitimately wanted to be there for pictures or he was afraid I'd get so wrapped up in taking pictures of just the courtyard I would miss the check-in time. If you know me, his concern is justifiable! HAHA! 

The backside of the main entrance! 

Even the doors were stunning!!! 


This is a panorama I took shooting out the castle window! They said we couldn't take pictures INSIDE the castle, the didn't say we couldn't take them FROM the castle! ;) 

A model of the castle...inside the castle! (The tour was over, we were free to take photos). I want this in a Lego set - Lego, get on that! Although I'm fairly certain the giant 3D Puzzle of this castle I never did finish is still at my parents house! (I told you, it's been a long love-affair with me & this castle). HAHA! 


Hello again!
After touring inside the castle, we had to walk down (and then up) another path that led to Mary's Bridge to get the best photo-ops of the castle! Andiamo!!! Allons-y!!! <--- (If you can understand one, you can understand the other...if not you need to watch Doctor Who!) ;) 


As with pretty much every turn in this country, the views are magnificent! There's Hohenschwangau in the distance! 

Now a little closer! :) 


There was a man near the bridge playing a Hurdy-Gurdy and singing! It was absolutely perfect!!


AHHHHHH!!! **Cue Hallelujah Chorus***


And I promise you, this is maybe 1/3rd pf the pictures I took of this castle!! You're welcome! :)


But hey, I found this handsome fellow on the bridge!! 


Panorama of the whole valley!! 

It's like a fairy tale!!! 


I did ultimately have to be practically pulled off the bridge, but I got one last glimpse before we got back on the bus! 


The whole town was just so perfect! The architecture, art and atmosphere! Not sure what deal was with the flag around the statue, but I caught it through a moving bus window! Skills! ;) 

Don't know where this was along our train ride back to Munich, but I just loved the long shadows!

Next stop:  Hofbräuhaus! Lively, fun atmosphere, live music, great beer and giant pretzels!!!! 



The next morning we were off to Rothenburg, Germany along the Romantic Road! We first made a stop at Ausburg Castle. It was beautiful and quiet and the tour guides were good. But let's face it, it's not Neuschwanstein. 

We finally arrived in Rothenburg!! This entire town makes you feel like you've stepped into another time! And it was such a strange contrast with the modern cars and delivery trucks driving down the roads. It was a bit of a paradox.


I have this exact oil painting in my home right now, so I wanted to attempt to recreate the photo as best I could! I didn't do as bad as I thought I did! I also have a painting of Neuschwanstein (you thought I was kidding about my infatuation with this castle), but it's of the castle in the winter and from a totally different angle than we ever saw (I will try to render that situation one day).  

I knew this guy was trouble! 


All of the torture and punishment devices in the Medieval Crime Museum! Out of all of these, I think that wheel is the worst. And the Iron Maiden's spikes were removed by the museum, because it's now believed that it was no torture device, just used like a "Shaming Mantle."

If you want Christmas all year long, THIS is the place to be!!! The whole store was like a museum!! We did not leave empty-handed.


I got to "Meet" King Ludwig after all!! He was hanging out in a Schneebälle (Snowballs) store. We only had 3 hours in this magical little town and it was not enough! It deserves at least a full day! I hope to go back one day! 


Our last day in Munich we rented bikes and biked all over the city! Munich is made for biking! Many people don't even own a car because they bike everywhere. And with almost 1300 kilometers of bike lanes it's so easy to do!

We made our way into the English Gardens! It's a huge, lusciously green park with a small river winding through it. So everyday there are some surfers riding the river rapids and even swimmers just lazily floating down the river. We wish we'd brought our bathing suits! We would've gone for a swim!

After taking the Garden route, we popped into the Deutches Museum! This place is HUGE! It has everything from toys, to musical and scientific instruments. Textile machines and photo equipment, planes and cars and ships! Just everything. 


We biked all the way out to Nymphenburg Palace and saw more swans!  

Our sweet rides! ;)

One of Munich's still-standing city gates!


When you are stuck sleeping on a bench of a train platform at 1:00 AM, you become grateful for 1. Food and 2. A free bathroom.
We had the bright idea to take an overnight train to Berlin from Munich so we wouldn't have to pay an extra night in the hotel and not lose a day of sight-seeing. Well, it WAS a good idea, but we read the train schedule wrong. We thought we were going to have a good 5 hours on the train to sleep from our transfer in Leipzig to Berlin. Well...about a week before our trip, we realized those 5 hours were not on the train, but the LAYOVER in Leipzig! We thought "For sure they'll have something for overnight travelers. It's the biggest station in the world." We couldn't have been more wrong. The lounge was closed, the mall area was closed. The only thing open was a McDonald's. It was there that we found nourishment (if you want to call it that) and a bathroom that you didn't have to pay for! We ultimately curled-up on some comfortable hard benches until around 4:00 and our train to Berlin was to leave at 5:50. It was a long, cold night, but it's all about the experience, right? And hey, I got a pretty sunrise picture out of it! :)

We finally made it to Berlin!! We couldn't check into our flat until 1:00, so what do you do after you've been awake for more than 24 hours? You go to the zoo of course!!! :D

Their aquarium was GREAT!!! It was also gigantic with 4 floors of everything from fish and other sea creatures, to amphibians, reptiles and insects! 

^ ^ I saw the 2 eels and immediately named them "Flotsam and Jetsam" (My Disney fan friends will get that) ;)


The zoo animals were soooooo cute!!!!!!!!!!!! But they frown on petting....
It's ok, I used to work in a zoo! I know what I'm doing! ;)


We also biked around Berlin, but it wasn't quite as easy as Munich! HA! But we did make it out to Checkpoint Charlie and got our passports stamped!!!


There was a ginormous dinosaur Transformer the size of the building it was affixed to, so op!!! 


We made our way out to The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and passed a street exhibition with pieces of the Berlin Wall. 

Looking up between the huge stone blocks of the memorial. 

Stones in the middle of the road are some of the only remaining signs of where the Wall stood.

Being at the memorial around dusk is such a moving, gripping experience. 

Right down the street from the Holocaust Memorial is the Brandenburg Gate! Also spectacular at dusk!

Chris got stopped and asked to take a picture for a family! I guess he's got that kind of face! :) I will refrain on expressing my opinion on taking photographs with iPads. HAHA!


As I was going through my nearly 800 photos of our trip, I noticed this little blip on the left-side of the photo. I thought it was a cloud at first, so I looked at the very next photo and it was there, but had moved and it wasn't on any other of the abhorrent amount of photos I took of the Brandenburg Gate either! Holy crap I caught a shooting total accident!!!! That made my day! :)

And of course the weekend we're in Berlin they're holding a French and German fair right in front of the Brandenburg Gate! Don't they know I need unobstructed photos!!!?? What is a photographer to do? :)

Our last day in Berlin was museum day! First stop: Pergamon Museum to see the Ishtar Gate! 

Next stop: Neues Museum. It's filled with Egyptian artifacts and sarcophagi. Chris is really into Egyptian culture and this museum turned out to be a highlight for both of us. And in the photo below of the guy without a nose. I took that picture because Chris said he looked like Voldemort! OMG, IT DOES!!!!!!!!! What has been seen cannot be unseen! You're welcome! 

The other thing that Germany and Florence have in common is that set of doors to the left. Those are the Gates of Paradise. This set is a copy. The originals are in The Duomo Museum in Florence and another copy on the doors to the baptistery. I feel so well-traveled when little things like this come up! When I was a kid and I'd be watching a movie with my Dad and if they were in some grand city, as a Marine, he did a little** traveling, he would always say "Been there." But now my "Been there's" are surpassing his! So take that, Daddy! ;) We'll compare when I come home to visit!

Last stop: German History Museum
The things they have in these museums never cease to amaze me.  King Ferdinand's horse armor, Mozart's family photo and Napoleon's famous Bicorne hat and sword! 

Our final stop in Berlin was food! So we made our way down to Alexanderplatz to see the TV tower and find the restaurant and there are these fountains that you can soak your feet in! My feet hurt so badly THAT was a highlight of the trip! HAHA! 

Until the next time! 

]]> (Amanda Shields Travel) Berlin Castle Deutschland Germany Munich Neuschwanstein Rothenburg holiday panoramas travel Fri, 01 Aug 2014 23:15:19 GMT
Salerno and Vietri, Italia|Travel This week was another adventure here in Italy! This time it was a short day trip to the Amalfi Coast! The original plan was to go to Positano by ferry from Sorrento, but the sea conditions were not good and all ferry traffic was cancelled. So instead we headed to the sleepy little cities of Salerno and Vietri sul Mare. These cities are definitely NOT Naples. I nearly fainted right there on the crosswalk when someone actually stopped their car to let me cross the street! It's a small town, not a lot to see. We had a few hours before we were heading to Vietri, so I popped into the Duomo with it's Romanesque architecture and headed downstairs to the crypt. Which is very ornately-decorated and said to contain the tomb of San Matteo (Saint Matthew). It was certainly beautiful! I stopped in a little cafe' and got an espresso. After wandering about the city, I made my way down to the water and sat on a bench. Next thing I know, this ADORABLE puppy jumps on the bench next to me! Her owner sat down on a bench further down. He asked me if I liked dogs and I, of course, answered with an excited "Sì!" I found out her name is Julie and she is only 6 months old. Her owner, Roberto, is a retired Captain in the Italian military. We had a great conversation and he was so surprised that I spoke Italian. I love being able to talk to people in their own language. I'm certainly not fluent...yet ;) but I'm learning and I would never get these opportunities otherwise! 
After Salerno was Vietri. We were dropped off in a small, bustling piazza lined with little ceramic shops. Each one offering something ever so slightly different than the one before it. After some shopping, I joined some friends at this little restaurant called Ristorante Evu which was a wonderful little corner spot with lots of shade, some delicious local dishes and desserts that I am so glad I tried! After a little exploring and of course the ever-difficult choice of which magnet to buy (it's usually the only souvenir I get), it was time to head back home to Napoli. Although Positano and it's cascading, picturesque hillside still eludes me, it was another perfect day! :) 

You're welcomed to Vietri by the mermaid and drawn in by the views! 

This is the Duomo di Salerno

Under the Duomo is the gilded crypt of San Matteo

The courtyard door is guarded by lions and it has some very interesting statues inside

This is my new friend, Julie! :) 


Stunning panoramas from Vietri! 



]]> (Amanda Shields Travel) Italia Italy Salerno Vietri amalfi coast, panoramas travel Wed, 02 Jul 2014 11:16:46 GMT
Friends, Gelato & Napoli|Personal I don't do many personal blogs, but my husband and I just hit our 2-year mark in Italy and I figured what better way to celebrate it than with a few photos!! What a crazy 2 years it's been. Naples can be an acquired taste and for awhile Naples and I had a love/hate relationship. But whenever I get a chance to get out and explore I am never disappointed and I become more enthralled with this magical city! Also celebrating 2 years in Italy is my best friend, Laura (who would not let me take a picture of her yesterday-HAHA)! She landed in Italy the same day we did and we ended up in the same area orientation class together. Then we would, (without planning), end up on the same trips & tours together. After that, we figured if this is how it's going to be we might as well just plan this stuff! And we became the best of friends and travel buddies! Then she and my husband got me hooked on Doctor Who, further blossoming our friendship, but that's a story for another day! HAHA! 

Laura and I made it down to the beautiful Lungomare of Naples for the Gelato Festival yesterday. We had more gelato than we could handle and didn't even finish all the "Tastes" you could get! Seriously...SO.MUCH.GELATO! But oh it was so delicious! Our favorite was the lemon Amalfitana taste! There was even a new flavor that had Peperoncinis in it and actually had a little spice to it. (I never would've thought of that for gelato.) There was also a mango-kiwi flavor that didn't taste like gelato-flavored mango and tasted like actual mango and kiwi! I don't even know how to describe it. Laura said they have successfully "Gelato-ized" the fruits!
 We need to call Webster's with all the new words that were made yesterday! ;) And let's not forget the Nutella gelato (because it's not a festival in Italy without Nutella)!

After resting and coming down off our gelato-highs, we decided to head back. But while walking around the streets of Vomero, we came upon a Neopolitan Puppet Show with the beloved mascot of Naples, Pulcinella. It's like an Italian Punch & Judy Show. They were talking so fast that I could only catch a few sentences here and there, but the children sitting next to us were squealing with delight, so it must've been good! It seemed like a fairly traditional show until the end when Pulcinella and the female character were dancing together in what seemed to be a nightclub of sorts...complete with fog and strobe-lights! It's just one of those times where you just have to laugh and say "Only in Naples!" It truly is a city all it's own. Maybe it's because we're crazy or maybe we love it? Maybe it's Stockholm Syndrome?? ...but my husband has put in a request to extend our tour here in Italy for one more year! Whether it's approved or not is still up in the air, but we still have at least a year left and I plan on sharing tons more adventures with all of you! 

Yeah, that's me - I'm usually the one BEHIND the camera and I prefer it that way, but there ya' go!

Castel dell'Ovo and 101 Dalmatians-themed train ride! Why not? 

Puppet show featuring Napoli's own, Pulcinella

While watching the puppet show, a man stuck his head out the window to watch! 

And here's the famous night-club dance scene!
Only in Napoli! 





]]> (Amanda Shields Travel) Italia Italy Naples Napoli Puppet show festival friends gelato lungomare Mon, 23 Jun 2014 17:18:25 GMT
Sorrento & The Valley of the Mills It was just me & my trusty side-kick Athena today! I drove down a large part of The Amalfi Coast by myself today! It was quite exciting & I can't wait to do it again! I had seen a picture of an old abandoned mill (on Pinterest, admittedly) & realized it was only about an hour drive from us here in Napoli! So I grabbed Athena & we headed down there! I can't believe this eerily beautiful building is right in the middle of bustling Sorrento! It's only about a block from Piazza Tasso, which is the main square in Sorrento. There's a hotel right next to the gorge that it's in! And as you're walking right along-side the road, you can look over the guard rail & there it is!! So after seeing the old mill, we walked all over the busy streets of the town & window-shopped in all the little stores of the alleys! Athena & I had so much fun! I can't wait to go back...just when it's not hot as Hades outside! :) Enjoy! 
My little side-kick, Athena!
Athena taking a break!Picture
This statue is actually on the other side of a store window! Athena saw the "cat" & immediately stopped, put her nose to the glass to figure out how to get to it! She barked at it & then went in the door around the other side to investigate & that's when I snapped this picture! :)


]]> (Amanda Shields Travel) Amalfi Coast Athena Italia Italy Sorrento dog road-trip Tue, 06 Aug 2013 12:44:17 GMT
Independence Day in Italia We may be in Italy, but we had to do something special for America's Independence Day! So we took a tour along the Amalfi Coast & strolled around the town of Amalfi!! We stopped at a few view-points along the way! The drive was insane! Along the entire coast there are 2000+ curves on a tiny 2-lane road! Walls of rocks on one side & a sheer cliff straight down to the sea on the other! Needless to say there were some close calls along the way! Thankfully we were in a tour bus! It started out as a drizzly day, but brightened up later on & turned out to be beautiful! 
Duomo di Amalfi
A band in the piazza


]]> (Amanda Shields Travel) Amalfi Coast, Independence Day Italia Italy rain travel Thu, 04 Jul 2013 12:19:55 GMT
Paddington Bear in Prague In the continuing adventures of Paddington Bears travels, this time we found ourselves in Prague, Czech Republic!! 

 -Click on any photo to enlarge-
On the plane from Italy to Prague
The View from the top of the Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower on Petrin Hill
Paddington in Wenceslas Square
Paddington at the National Museum in Wenceslas Square
On the bus to Kutna Hora!
He was making friends with the marionette dolls!
We visited St. Barbara's Cathedral in Kutna Hora, Czech Republic
Flying back to Italy
Taking the train from Rome to Naples going home after a great holiday in Prague!
]]> (Amanda Shields Travel) Czech Europe European Paddington Bear Prague Praha Republic holiday photography travel vacation Sat, 01 Jun 2013 17:50:46 GMT
Paddington on The Island of Capri In the continuing saga of The Paddington Bear adventures, this time Paddington went with me to visit the beautiful Island of Capri just off the coast of Naples, Italy! Here are a few pictures from his adventures! Enjoy! 

  -Click any photo to enlarge-
Paddington on the ferry ride over to Capri
He rode the bus too!
...and the chairlift up Mount Solaro on Anacapri!
]]> (Amanda Shields Travel) Capri Europe Island of Capri Italia Italy Naples Napoli Paddington Bear adventures boats holiday island panoramas photography travel water Mon, 15 Apr 2013 17:11:18 GMT
London This was a wonderful & amazing trip we took for our 2nd anniversary! London is such an amazing city! So big & busy! We squeezed every ounce of London sight-seeing into 3 days & hopped over to Wales for our last day! It was spectacular...and still quite cold! Enjoy! 
Night shot in Hyde Park
Used in the Harry Potter movies as Diagon Alley
To be continued...January 2014
]]> (Amanda Shields Travel) Europe Great Britain London United Kingdom city history holiday panoramas photography travel Sun, 07 Apr 2013 15:23:00 GMT
Paddington Bear in London On our travels in London we came across a special bear in the Paddington train station! His permanent homes will be with mine & my husband's mothers, but only after all our travels & adventures while we're living in Europe! So Paddington goes everywhere with us & we're documenting all his travels!



Paddington rode the Underground
He even got to board the Hogwart's Express at Platform 9 3/4 in King's Cross Station.
He enjoyed the train ride from London to Wales!
And of course he helped fly the TARDIS at the Doctor Who Experience!


]]> (Amanda Shields Travel) Bear England Europe Great Britain Paddington Paddington Bear United Kingdom photography travel Sun, 31 Mar 2013 15:59:31 GMT