Christmas

Christmas Trip to Chicago

Another quick hitter post to get closer to catching up to current day. Wife and I took a quick (2-night) trip to Chicago during Christmas, 2015. We stayed at the Ritz-Carlton on points and got cheap roundtrip flights on Southwest. Flew from New Orleans (MSY) to Chicago (MDW), with a connection on the return in Nashville (BNA). Highlight of our trip was dinner at Girl and the Goat on the West Loop. Fantastic food and great atmosphere, can’t recommend enough.

Chicago

Looking down the Chicago River

Chicago

Cityscape

Chicago

Daytime view from Ritz-Carlton Chicago

Chicago

Christmas Market in Chicago

Chicago

Enjoying our Glühwein

Chicago

Nighttime view from Ritz-Carlton Chicago

Chicago

Random picture of Trump Tower. Little did I realize what was to come.

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Trip Report: Christmas in Rome and New Year’s in Barcelona (Day 6-10)

New goal for this summer is to post much more frequently and as part of that I am trying to wrap up several old trip report series.  Today’s post will cover the last 5 days of our trip in 2012 to Rome and Barcelona.  Photo’s are from both Barcelona and the costa brava.  I will let the pictures do the talking in this post.  Looking forward to more posts soon!

View from our room in the Hilton Del Mar Barcelona

View from our room in the Hilton Del Mar Barcelona

Gothic Quarter

Gothic Quarter

Gothic Quarter

Gothic Quarter

Harbor

Harbor

Sagrada Familia

Sagrada Familia

Our Smart car rental

Our Smart car rental

German Shorthaired Pointer reminding us of our dog at home

German Shorthaired Pointer reminding us of our dog at home

View over Cadaques

View over Cadaques

Waterfront near Dali's home

Waterfront near Dali’s home

Trip Report: Christmas in Rome and New Year’s in Barcelona (Day 4)

Given that it was Christmas Day we had planned to sleep in a bit and meet my family a little bit later (10:30) near the Vatican.   Our plan was to meet outside the Vatican walls and proceed into St. Peter’s Square in order to listen to the Pope give his Christmas address. Amazingly, our plan worked.

We met outside of the walls and walked as a group into St. Peter’s Square finding it to be less crowded than we initially had feared (still about 30-40 minutes before his speech).  We managed to get within 10-15 people of the northwest corner barricade, all-in-all a really good spot to watch.  As the time for his appearance and address approached the square became more and more crowded, to the point that it was filled out to the very edges. Pretty neat to be as close as we were. (I should clarify that I am not Catholic but do find it very neat to witness events like this)

I definitely count myself incredibly lucky as this is the second time I have been able to watch a Pope deliver a religious holiday address in St. Peter’s Square. (My wife and I saw Pope Benedict give an Easter Mass on our honeymoon)

Some pictures from our time watching the Pope.

St. Peter's Christmas Morning

St. Peter’s Christmas Morning

Waiting on the Pope

Waiting on the Pope

Pope Francis Christmas Address

Pope Francis Christmas Address

Once the Pope was finished giving his Christmas address we had decided, as a family, to have a long late lunch for our Christmas day meal.  We met the owner (Frederico) the previous day and he was at the restaurant when we returned ensuring we were well taken care of.  It was a good experience and I think we all enjoyed the chance to spend a couple of hours together celebrating Christmas.

After our long meal (2.5+ hours) we strolled leisurely back towards the Spanish Steps doing some window shopping along the way.  We were surprised, but happy, at the amount of people out and about on Christmas Day.  Made for a very fun atmosphere.

Beautiful Ceiling

Beautiful Ceiling

Sorry for the quality of the above picture but the lighting was difficult to capture just how magnificent the ceiling of this church is.  We went there on the recommendation of the aforementioned Frederico and it was amazing.  The church is tucked into a small piazza behind and to the left of the Pantheon.  Well worth it to go out of your way to find this church.

Elephant statue

Elephant statue

My wife really liked this one 🙂

Christmas Day - Trevi Fountain

Christmas Day – Trevi Fountain

Alright, one more day in Rome with my family to blog and then we head our separate ways. My wife and I went on to Barcelona and the family continued onto Florence.  Hopefully, I can get our Day 5 post out tomorrow. Until then, enjoy!

Trip Report: Christmas in Rome and New Year’s in Barcelona

Due to our normal Thanksgiving/Christmas rotation Christmas fell this year with my family.  My mother decided it would be a good idea to gather everyone together in Rome for Christmas.  We would spending 5 nights in Rome with 11 people (My sister and her two children, my brother and his wife and three kids, my mom, and my wife and myself). Needless to say, I expected a little bit of chaos!  After our 5 nights in Rome, my wife and I left for 5 nights in Barcelona while my family continued on to Florence.  It was a refreshing way to spend Christmas.

Our itinerary (and blog breakdown) was as follows:

12/21 – ATL-FRA-FCO Lufthansa Business Class (A340-300 Old Business Class)

12/22-12/27 – Rome with my family.  Stayed at the Rome Cavalieri, part of the Waldorf-Astoria Collection

12/27 – FCO-BCN on Vueling (A320)

12/27-1/1 – Barcelona with my wife.  Stayed at the Hilton Diagonal Mar.

1/1 – BCN-FRA-ATL Lufthansa Business Class (A340-300 Old Business Class)

Rome Christmas Barcelona Christmas