2/9/16

Pesto Heaven in Santa Margherita Ligure, Italy

I love pesto!  So when I heard that Santa Margherita Ligure was known for some of the best pesto in Italy, I had to have it.

Beautiful church in Santa Margherita Ligure

This church was one of the many things my family saw as I dragged them all over the city to find the best restaurant.  We were enjoying all the sights, but we were getting really hungry.  The market below was very tempting.

Italian  market in Santa Margherita Ligure

My family was getting super frustrated with me.  To be honest, I was getting frustrated with myself.  But I wanted a restaurant that had pesto pasta, as well as, pesto pizza.  Someone told me about it and I couldn't get it out of my mind.  When you are the one person in your family that doesn't want to settle, times can get tense.  But I am very stubborn and insisted that we keep searching.  Thank goodness my husband is so easy going.  He convinced the kids to hang in there.  And finally, we found what we were looking for.

Baicin restaurant in Santa Margherita Ligure, Italy

This little outdoor gem was just what I was looking for.  Not only could we sit outside, but they served pesto pasta and pizza.  AND it was right next door to a gelato place.  Success!

Santa Margherita Ligure, Italy streets

Ironically, after all that my son ordered the spaghetti.  :)

Spaghetti in Italy

But to be fair, he is obsessed with spaghetti and gets it everywhere we go.

Lunch in Italy with my husband

We started with a much needed glass of wine and an Italian beer.  And then on to the pesto...

Pesto pizza in Italy

Pesto pasta in Italy

So we got the pesto pizza, which I was surprised also had tomato sauce on it.  And rather than the plain pesto pasta, we went with Trenette alla genovese, which was flat spaghetti with pesto sauce, potatoes and green beans.  The walk all over town was worth it.  We sat back with our wine, our pesto and our delighted full bellies.  Well, not too full to enjoy a little....

Chocolate gelato in Italy

Chocolate gelato.  I mean, can you ever be too full for that!?

1/17/16

New Year in Puerto Rico

2015 was one of the most challenging years of my life.  So I decided to start 2016 off with a last minute family trip to Puerto Rico...and I'm glad I did.  What a great way to kick off a brand new year!

Caribe HIlton in San Juan, Puerto Rico

We knew we wanted a warm destination, but with our passports expiring in the spring, our choices were limited.  Make sure you check passport regulations for the country you want to visit.  For example, to travel to Mexico, your passport can't be expiring within six months of your trip.  But to travel to the Bahamas, you can go anytime up until your passport expires.  And Puerto Rico is best of all (for US citizens), you don't even need a passport.

Agua Viva restaurant for our anniversary dinner in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Not only does the new year bring a fresh start, but it also brings our wedding anniversary.  What a beautiful place to celebrate marrying the most amazing man I know.  We made reservations at Agua Viva, which was a recommendation from several people.  It means Jelly Fish, hence the coolest lights ever.  We loved it: food, atmosphere and the service.

Caribe HIlton in San Juan, Puerto Rico

As this trip was meant for relaxation, we booked a larger resort close to Old San Juan and with its own private beach.  The Caribe Hilton did not disappoint.

Carible Hilton in San Juan, Puerto Rico

The beach service was fantastic with food and drinks, as well as, a Starbucks right on the beach.  I had never seen that before, but I was more interested in the Pina Coladas and Mojitos.  :)

View from our room at the Caribe Hilton in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Did I mention that this was the view from our balcony?  Every morning I sat there and drank my coffee while enjoying this fabulous view.

Fort walls in San Juan, Puerto Rico

I took this picture with snapchat (add me: swagtasticmama) of the Old San Juan fort wall.  We walked along the wall to dinner one night.  I loved the history and beauty of this place.

Two of the Three Kings celebrating Three Kings Festival in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Puerto Ricans celebrate the Christmas season well into the new year.  So we were witness to A LOT of celebrating.  They seem to love a good celebration.  I caught these "kings" heading out into the street party right outside the Princesa Gastro Pub where we were having dinner.  It was part of the Three Kings festival which was happening in a few days.  It was interesting to take in some of the local culture in this way.

A local Puerto Rican dish called Mofongo

Speaking of local culture, I ate lots of Mofongo.  It is made with plantains and it is yummy.  This one has chicken and shrimp in a garlic sauce sitting on top of the Mofongo.

Dinner at Oceano in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Our final night we had dinner at Oceano Restaurant.  As you can see it is located right on the beach with stunning views of the sunset.  The food and service was also wonderful.  Our son is obsessed with calamari, so we pretty much order it whenever it is on the menu.  This was the best calamari we had ever had.  It was cut into steak strips instead of rings and served with cilantro aioli and mango chili sauce.  Delish!  And we ended with the best key lime pie I can remember eating.  Fabulous night!

Pina Colada at its birth place, the Caribe Hilton in San Juan, Puerto Rico

I leave you with the Pina Colada I'm having at the hotel.  Turns out, the Caribe Hilton hotel is the birth place of the Pina Colada.  So, of course, every night I felt obligated to enjoy one at the outdoor bar area.  The weather was perfect as my husband and I talked about the last year and the challenges we powered through.  We sipped our drinks and smiled as we knew 2016 was starting off in a fantastic way.  Whether you were traveling or home, with family, friends or your wonderful self, I hope you are starting 2016 off in a way that you want.  My love to you all! :)

10/13/15

Portofino, Italy

Portofino, Italy

After my long hike to Portofino, I was ready to sit down and have a drink.  I was so thirsty, that I opted for a cold soda instead of wine...that's really thirsty people!  The rest of my family was feeling the same way.  So we grabbed a table and each ordered a soda.  The drink was refreshing and the people watching was great, but the waiters were so rude.  When I asked for the restroom he actually started yelling at me in Italian because I couldn't understand his English.  To top off the event, our bill came.  It was $60 with tip for our FOUR sodas.  Portofino is not a cheap place, folks.

9/19/15

Hiking to Portofino, Italy

When our cruise ship stopped at Santa Margherita, Italy, we had many excursions to choose from.  Our final decision was to hike to Portofino and back, while enjoying both cities and the views in between.  And what views those were!

Gorgeous view while hiking in Italy

The walk took a little over an hour and was easy at times, with a few moderate spots along the way.  We got an idea of what it would be like as we viewed the northern Italian coast from our cruise ship balcony.  Gorgeous!
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