Category Archives: Blog

Anna and Becky in Hawaii: Day 5

It must have rained last night, because we woke up to a rainbow this morning!

Once we all got ready, we drove into Paia for a food tour.  We got to try samples from all over the town, including smoothies, a zesty breakfast burrito, and even fresh fruit in a local grocery store.  It was tasty!

Afterwards, we drove part of the Road to Hana looking for the bamboo forests and Twin Falls.  We never really found the forest, but we did hike the Waikamoi Nature Trail that we found instead.  Afterwards, we continued on to the waterfalls and saw some bamboo groves there.

We then returned to Paia for some more sightseeing before going back to our room.

Anna and Becky in Hawaii: Days 3 and 4

We spent the last couple of mornings snorkeling at Kapalua Beach.  We saw a bunch of fish swimming in the rocks, and a sea turtle even surfaced a few feet away from us!  I wish I had an underwater camera to get pictures of everything.

Monday night we attended the Royal Lahaina Luau, where we ate some pretty good food and heard a few stories from the Myths of Maui.  My dad even volunteered to go up to the stage for a basic hula lesson!

Tuesday was our zipline day, and we spent the afternoon zipping through the trees at Northshore Zipline.  We stopped for dinner in Makawao and took an hour to explore the town before driving up to the Haleakala summit to watch the sunset.  It was a busy day, but lots of fun!

Anna and Becky in Hawaii: Day 2

We drove into Lahaina yesterday, and spent most of the morning and afternoon exploring the town. They have a bunch of neat shops in the main downtown area, but we also got to see the Jodo Mission and the Banyan Tree on opposite ends of the town.

We ended the afternoon with swimming at Hanakao’o Park.

Anna and Becky in Hawaii: Day 1

Yesterday, May 19,  was our first full day on Maui!  We took a few hours in the morning to settle in, and then spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing on the beach and exploring our side of the island!

We spent a few hours swimming around on Fleming Beach before moving on to see what else was in the area.  We met some chickens, took in the scenery, and even stopped for smoothies.  Here are some pictures from throughout the day:

Anna in Italy: Day 7

Today was our last full day in Italy, and we spent it on another all-day guided tour in Tuscany.

Our first stop was at Oliviera Sant’Angelo, a small olive oil mill in Crete Senesi.  Olive season is from October to early December, so unfortunately we couldn’t see the machines in action.  Instead, we got a walk-through of the building, and we had a chance to sample the various grades of olive oil that they produce.

Next, we visited Podere il Casale.  They are a small farm and restaurant that tries to be self-sufficient as much as possible.  This farm has a small herd of goats and sheep that they used to make cheese, including the Pecorino cheese that Tuscany is known for.  Lunch at the farm included a salad right from the garden, pasta made with wheat from their fields, and a sample of their cheeses.  It was all really delicious!

The last stop was in Pienza, a town in the mountains overlooking the farm.  Our tour guide grew up just outside this town, so he was pretty excited at getting to show us around!  Not only did we get to look around the town cathedral, but we also saw a palace owned by Pope Pius II.  We had some time to wander the streets before our guide dropped off back at our hotel.

Anna in Italy: Day 6

We were back in Florence today, this time for a walking tour of the city.

Our first stop was at the Gallery of the Academy of Florence.  This art museum is best known as the home of Michelangelo‘s David sculpture, but they also contain several of his unfinished sculptures and some other Renaissance paintings.  The David sculpture was initially constructed to sit in front one of the palaces in Florence, but it was relocated in 1873 and replaced with a replica.

Our second stop was a tour of the Florence Cathedral, called the “duomo” by the locals.  This cathedral was started in 1294, but it took until 1436 before somebody figured out how to build the giant dome.  Our tour group took a walk through the main floor, and the tour guide mostly focused on its construction, artwork, and use as a meeting place for non-religious events.

Our last stop was to the Uffizi, one of the largest art museums in the entire world.  Its collection includes paintings from artists such as Michelangelo, Botticelli, Raphael, and Leonardo da Vinci.  We walked through almost the entire art museum and learned some of the history of the various paintings and exhibits.

Here are some of my photos from throughout the tour:

Anna in Italy: Day 5

Today was wine tour day!  We went to three wineries in the Chianti region, and sampled a total of thirteen wines throughout the day.

Our first stop was at Castello di Radda, a fairly new winery that has been operating since 2009.  We toured their facilities, and then tried five of their wines.

Our next stop was for lunch in Volpaia, a city that was built in the 10th century along the Florence and Sienna border.  We didn’t tour any wineries there, but we did get to try one wine made in the city.

Our third stop was in Castello di Brolio, the second oldest winery in the world and the place where Chianti wine was invented.  We had a tour of the grounds and learned the history of the castle before moving on to the wine tasting.  They had three wines to sample, all either Chianti or Supertuscans.

Our final stop was Cantalici.  This winery was converted from a 6th century kiln, and uses organic wine making techniques.  We had a tour of the grounds before trying  four of the wines and some of their olive oil.

Here are some pictures from throughout the day:

 

Anna in Italy: Day 4

Today we drove into Arezzo, the capital city of the Arezzo province in Tuscany.  This town was built in the mountains by the Etruscan civilization around the 6th century BCE.  It was conquered by the Romans around 311 BCE, and became a home for retired Roman soldiers.

Our first stop was at the Arezzo Archaeological Museum, which was built directly into the ruins of the old Roman amphitheater.  This museum contained artifacts found in the area dating back to the Roman times, including the tools used to mass-produce the iconic clay vases.

After the museum we toured the Basilica of San Francesco, a church that began construction around 1290 CE.  This church is best known for housing frescoes depicting the Legend of the True Cross.  The basement of this church contained an exhibition hall, currently showing stereoscopic pictures from the late 1800s.

Here are my pictures from throughout the day:

Anna in Italy: Days 2 and 3

Most places are closed in Italy on Sundays, so yesterday was mostly a rest day.  We took some time to explore our resort, find the nearest train station, and wander around the closest town.

Today we took a guided tour to Cortona and Assisi. Cortona is towards the top of a mountain, and was where the movie Under the Tuscan Sun was filmed.  We used some of our time there to admire the view.  By the time we went through a small museum and some shops our time was up and we had to get on the bus to move on.

Assisi is best known as the birthplace as both Saint Francis and Saint Claire.  We had lunch shortly after arriving, and then had the chance to tour their basilicas.  Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take pictures in either basilica.  On our way out of town we saw the basilica of Saint Mary, a church built around a much smaller church that Saint Francis had reconstructed.

Here are some pictures from the last few days:

Anna in Italy: Day 1

I arrived in Italy mid-afternoon on May 26th with my parents, but we were too tired to do much besides walk around a bit and find pizza.  Yesterday was our first full day in the country, and we took a Segway tour of Florence to give us a chance to see as much of the city as possible in a short amount of time.  Here are some photos from throughout day: