Today is one of those days where you wake up, knowing it’s going to be so very hot. Any plans of getting things accomplished, of working around the house, and especially turning on the oven are all abandoned for more noble causes like running in the sprinkler and/or heading to Lake Michigan, or as we call it, The Lake.
Thinking of driving down the coast of the Mediterranean in Italy is also a lovely way to cool off. It’s an lesson in mind over matter, really. The fan blowing directly into my face right now is mildly reminiscent of the cool breeze that comes off the ocean. (I did say mildly.) We were hauling to Rome in order to make it to our hotel before they gave our room away. We all seemed to look out the window at the same time to see this sunset, and the briefest of brief stops was necessary just to watch the sunset for a few moments. Sunsets were nothing new, but a good one is a perfect reminder to slow down and enjoy things. (Even if that did mean one of our rooms was given away.)
Milan is gritty and industrial, and the first time I ventured there we’d just spent a few days in the magical city of Venice, so it took a minute (or two) to warm up to the place. Our trips to Europe (there have been two for me) have revolved around Milan, though. I tag along to Dan’s work trip, which is an annual trade show that happens there in November. It works out perfectly because it always falls on or around my birthday, and being in Europe is an amazing way to ring in any new year. Since Dan has always been at a conference for the Milan leg of the trip, I’ve gotten some time to explore Milan. I have a favorite cafe, a super amazing steak restaurant that we love, I know where to get the best gelato (trust me, this was some real scientific research), the best place to buy shoes, my favorite places to window shop and then the places I actually like to do real shopping, and the building I’ve picked out to live in because I am in love with the beautiful pink door and flowers hanging from the window boxes.
I like the familiarity of the city – by the end of our last stay I didn’t feel quite like a token tourist. A friend and I were feeling adventurous – grabbing trains, maneuvering through the city beyond the main square in order to find little markets and antique shops, and knowing how to avoid anyone trying to get you to hold pigeons. Italians are sweet and forgiving for anyone adventurous enough to try and have a conversation in Italian. It’s such an easy place to fall in love with, and I can’t wait to head back. I always want to go back and not hold pigeons.
If you ever find yourself traveling back and forth between Italy and France, you should rent a car. I’ve been lucky enough to tag along with Dan a few times when he’s got a trade show in Milan, and we’ve rented a car to travel around every time. It’s the best way to see the country. We got to stop whenever we wanted to grab food, stretch or legs, or abandon the highway when a beautiful, tiny village popped up out of nowhere. We found Isola Del Cantone somewhere along the way as we were heading from Milan to Nice, France. There’s some serious windy highways that cause even those blessed with iron stomachs to feel a bit woozy. The first time I saw this town, nestled between the mountain and a river and glowing in the fog, that it was some sort of car sick mirage. We took the exit and landed in such an amazing little place. The streets were empty, so it had the strange ghost town vibe, we had the place to ourselves. We were traveling with a couple of our good friends, and we all took countless photos, as the entire town was perfectly photogenic. We found ourselves in a small coffee shop, dunking biscotti into hot chocolate (which is quite literally chocolate that is hot), and watching ‘The Simpsons’ in Italian with the couple working behind the bar. It was amazing, and perfect, and still funny in another language.
Since this week is a definite departure from my normal routine, and I haven’t got posts revolving around my usual features that make weekly appearances (Tartine Baking Project and Completely Pinteresting), I’d introduce a new little feature today. Ladies and gentlemen, I present “Let’s Go There.” I’ll share favorite photos from places I’ve been. Most of the time they’ll have something to do with food, in one way or another, because that’s usually how I roll.
This is one of my favorite photos I’ve ever taken. The waves crashing on the rocks, the way the sea sort of disappears, the old lighthouse – such a beautiful spot. Jack was just two months old and we took a little trip over that lovely Golden Gate Bridge, and explored the Marin headlands and the lighthouse. I am so in love with the fog and the Pacific Ocean. Even though Jack was strapped to me with a carrier, I nearly had a heart attack going across the squeaky bridge where only one person is allowed to cross at a time. I watched the waves crash between the cracks of boards beneath my feet, holding my breath, hoping that my baby and I wouldn’t plummet into the ocean. (It seems inevitable that someone is going to fall through some day.) I also hoped to make it because we had plans of enjoying oysters and crab rolls at my favorite neighborhood restaurant later that day.