My dream trip to Italy finally happened! It has been the number one thing on my bucket list since I was a little girl. Rome was the first stop on our tour of Italy and there was so much joy in my heart. Dreams of tossing a coin in the Trevi Fountain, seeing the grand Colosseum, and walking hand-in-hand down the cobblestone streets with the man of my dreams: they all came true and then some. This was my first trip out of the country and, boy, was it one for the books!!
After talking about taking our trip to Italy for many years, it finally felt like the right time to take some much needed time for us. 2016 ended with a lot of stress, loss, and sadness. In October, we found out we were pregnant. We were thrilled, even though I was terribly sick all day due to morning sickness! Everything looked fine until it wasn’t.
We found out right before Thanksgiving that there wasn’t going to be a baby and two weeks before Christmas I miscarried. It was the worst thing I have ever been through. Though I am now able to talk about it, it still brings a sadness to my heart that I have never known before.
I’m sure you are thinking, “Well, this is not the story I was expecting to read.” I decided to share this because if we hadn’t been through that terrible time we may have never stopped to do something for us. As we had mourned our loss, we decided to take the next year to refresh, refocus, and travel.
Christmas 2016 was SO HARD. We were going to announce to the rest of our families that we were pregnant. While that didn’t happen, Andrew did surprise me with the BEST Christmas presents EVER. Books. Not just any books though, books about ITALY. A giant coffee table lookbook of Italy and a travel book! He gave me the gift of dreaming about the trip I had always imagined but never thought would happen. Little did I know it was about to!
We began to read all about Italy and where we wanted to go. It was the best distraction. We quickly became overwhelmed with the options. Finally, after a month of trying to figure it out on our own, we gave up and called Phyllis Horodner of Eileen’sTravel. Within one phone call, she figured out what we wanted before we even knew and recommended a guided tour with Cosmos.
I was skeptical at first but the more she described it the better it sounded. We would stay in a hotel every night, travel by motor coach with wifi (which was actually like a Tour BUS! It was AWESOME!), most meals were included and we would travel to the most popular destinations in Italy in 9 days. It was perfect!
We booked the trip and the anticipation began! It was finally happening! When the day finally came we left with so much excitement. We got to the Miami airport way too early and ended up sitting around for over 4 hours.
While we were there I called my best friend, Emily, who lives in Texas. We had tried to talk the night before but couldn’t so I called her one more time before I left. Well, I then found out that she was in labor! It was April 8th, her due date and she was in LABOR! I couldn’t believe she was on time with her first baby.
After screaming for joy in the terminal a bit and talking to my other best friend, Brooke, who lives in West Palm Beach (who was also pregnant) about the news, I boarded my first plane to Atlanta, GA.
When I arrived in Atlanta I looked at my phone to see if we had a baby in Texas yet only to see a text from Brooke informing me that she was also in labor! Now I was freaking out even more and called her immediately.
Here I was, getting ready to board a 10-hour flight to Rome, Italy that would not have wifi and both of my best friends were in labor! I was pacing back and forth. I could not believe the chances. Brooke wasn’t due for another 3 weeks! The fact that I was supposed to be there and couldn’t was heartbreaking. There were so many emotions!
But then a very good friend, Alex, spoke some important wisdom back into my head. “Remember why you are going to Italy. This is a time for you and Andrew. Everyone will be here when you get back and you need to get away and get a breather.” With those words and sobbing eyes, I boarded the plane.
The flight to Rome was the BEST flight we had ever been on. Delta rocked! When we arrived, the first thing I did was check my phone while running to catch the 11:00 a.m. shuttle to our hotel with only 5 minutes to spare. They waited for us and we were so thankful we didn’t have to wait 3 hours for the next one! That was the first sign that our Cosmos tour was going to be a good one!
When we arrived at the hotel it was noon in Rome. Back in West Palm Beach, the sun was rising on the birthday of my godson, Clayton James. Out in Texas, Emily had given birth to Owen Hitchcock while I was in the air, the night before. The little guys were born on different days but only hours apart. I became Tia Crystal to precious Owen Hitchcock on April 8th at 8:37 p.m. and Godmother to sweet C.J. Carter on April 9th at 1:47 a.m.!
Everything that led up to our Italy trip was out of our control and everything that happened the day we left to Italy was out of our control. But choosing to see God’s grace in every moment of our trip was in our control. And boy, did we see it! We felt so loved on and blessed every moment we were in Italy. It was one of the best things we could have done for our marriage and ourselves. This trip was so much more than a dream. It was a blessing.
The first day in Italy was filled with so much excitement! After arriving at our hotel, the first thing I did was FaceTime Brooke in WPB. I wanted to meet my godson C.J. and even over a screen, he was so cute! After organizing my luggage (total type A) and freshening up we decided three hours would be enough time to peek at Rome before our meeting with our tour guide! Boy, did I wish we were right! The bus system isn’t the easiest to figure out when you don’t have an international cell phone plan… Oh well!
We got our feet wet just exploring Roma! The Spanish Steps! Fresh pasta being made! If you know me you know I have a thing for vintage cars… Especially red ones! Italy had so many! Be prepared to see a handful of them in every blog post!
Then we finally made it to the Trevi Fountain! I was so in awe that I barely took any photos. Oops. There were also a million people there… it was Holy Week.
Then we made our way to the Pantheon! What do you do to pass the time as you wait for your bus? Get some portraits done, of course!
Our bus finally came!! We were SO late! Then we found out it was the wrong bus, we got out and walked for a while. After several blocks, by the grace of God, we found a taxi that was able to take us back to our hotel! We were only 30 minutes late for our meeting! Lol. After our meeting, we grabbed a quick bite and went straight to sleep! We had been up for around 38 hours and we had a very early morning wake up call!
DAY Two in Rome:
First thing in the morning we visited the Vatican Museum!
Since we were a part of a tour we were able to get in very quickly without waiting in the long line and we had our very own local tour guide!
Every part of the Vatican Museum was amazing! The colors in these paintings were so vivid that they seemed to pop off the background. St. John Lateran Archbasilica
While at the Vatican City, we had a break for lunch. We had our first slice of Italian pizza and it was amazing!! Then we just had to have our first taste of Italian Gelato!! It was life changing. Then we arrived at the Colosseum! Thanks for this photo Alexa Sedge!! View of the Roman Forum from the Colosseum. The Colosseum used to be completely covered in white marble! Almost all of it was taken but a few pieces still remain. I got excited when I found a remaining piece! This lower part is where they used to hold the animals. Then we visited the Roman Forum! This is where Julius Caesar was cremated. As we left the Roman Forum, I captured the Colosseum one more time from this angle!
Back to Roma!
Afterward, we headed back to the hotel to have a bit of a siesta, but we weren’t done. We grabbed another bus and headed back to Roma! I needed to see the Trevi Fountain again!
We were also able to visit the Pantheon again! This time the line wasn’t a mile long so we were able to see the inside!
Then we made it back to the Trevi Fountain! This time there weren’t a million people and the lighting was so dreamy! And this time we got up front and remembered to bring a few coins to toss in!