2017…another year in the books

2017 has reminded me just how grateful I should be, how thankful I am for the amazing people in my life and how blessed I am to live this life I have!

I’m not going to lie, 2017 started out as a rough year. 40 days in, my life changed forever. Dealing with my mom’s passing was rough, and I really thought it was going to define the year. While I am sure I will always remember that as the most influential part of my 2017, I have been blessed with a multitude of other experiences to make this year enjoyable in the days since. Here are my top 17 highlights from 2017:

  1. Monroe got a new yoga studio – Blue Lotus Yoga, opened by a dear friend of mine who has entrusted me with help her with her social media and website, and all the while it has only made Elaina and me better friends.
  2. My friend Mary came to visit from down south just to keep me company and be with me for a tough weekend. While it was a short visit, it is one I will always remember as she but her own life on hold for the weekend to be there for me at the drop of a hat.
  3. I got my 3rd tattoo – it’s my mom’s handwriting and says “Love, Mom”, taken off the Christmas card she wrote me last year.
  4. Tom and I went to see Jake Owen in concert! (I have to get at least one country concert in each year.)
  5. Once I finally had a chance to leave home for a bit, I visited Jenna and saw Oregon and Washington for my first time! We went beer tasting around Portland (along with whiskey and wine tasting) and even had a flight across the gorge in Washington! I was also able to see Mulnomah Falls and the Columbia River Gorge before they were hit with a devastating wild fire. Also, while in Portland, Jenna took me to my very first professional soccer game – and I will admit that I loved it!
  6. I spent Mother’s Day weekend in DC with Emily – wine tasting around Virginia and taking in another Nationals game.
  7. I completed my 2nd Warrior Dash with some awesome ladies from my softball team.
  8. I got a dirt bike!!!
  9. Spent Labor Day up on Cape Cod with Tom, Jenna and her family to wish her farewell before her next chapter of life and adventures in Cambodia! And since it was me and Jenna, rum, gin and wine tasting were all on the menu! Along with a 20+ mile bike ride on the rail trail. And we even caught a sight of seals off the coast in Provincetown.
  10. Finally took in a Bridgeport Bluefish game at Harbor Yard before they left town for good.
  11. And even though Hurricane Irma rained out the Tampa 2017 installment of #ktomandlamargotimlbtour, we booked a last minute trip to Cleveland where we saw the Indians win 21 straight games (and then break their win streak two days later). Plus we saw the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and cruised on the Great Lake to see a different side of Cleveland.
  12. I finally made it to Canada thanks to a work trip to Montreal. And though I didn’t have time for sightseeing, there was time to pick up pure Canadian maple syrup to bring home! Work also sent me to Atlanta, so I finally stepped foot outside the airport. And was able to experience some southern BBQ while we dined. My final work trip sent me to Torino, Italy for a week. And included a 7 hour layover in Frankfurt, which gave me ample time to go walk around the city instead of just hanging out in the airport.
  13. After wanting to learn for a long time, I dove in and took a calligraphy class at Joyful Noise Paper and have been enjoying practicing my new hobby ever since.
  14. I spent November writing my 30 Days of Thanks and looking back on all of the blessings I have in my life.
  15. I was elected chair of Monroe Youth Commission.
  16. I survived 3 straight days of Christmas baking – making 100 raspberry thumprints + 121 chocolate chip cookies + 3 Irish soda breads + 81 meringues + 45 chocolate covered pretzels…all for the weekend before Christmas. And that doesn’t include anything I made for Christmas itself, which we hosted for the 1st time this year.
  17. The Gotimer family grew again as Lizzie and Brian got married!

Day 29 – Torino

I am thankful to now be in Italy, experiencing a new city; Torino. While I am spending most of my time here in meetings, I have a chance to see new sights and eat new foods. After arriving yesterday, we took a short walk in the nearby area and went to a mall that is inside the old Fiat factory! (And speaking of Fiat, I was in a factory next to the current Fiat factory today.) Last night we had fresh ravioli for dinner, tonight we had risotto and crepes and are going to have pizza tomorrow! And I learned tonight that the area around Torino/Milano is full of rice fields. And in addition to factories and food, we have a beautiful view of the Alps from down the street, and especially when we drive towards them for our meetings…

Venice, Italy

So I went to Venice this weekend with Johanna & Moira. We left bright and early on Friday morning and returned this afternoon. The trip started off interestingly to say the least. On Thursday night I had called and booked a cab to come pick us up at 3:30am on Friday. A little before we were due to leave, I went down and waited in Jo & Moira’s room as they finished packing. Then the taxi driver calls us saying he is outside, so I go out and as I open the door, he is yelling up to some of my roommates that he is going to call the cops. So we all try and talk him out of it as the three of us really need to get to the airport and we don’t need to deal with the cops. But he still calls the cops claiming that a penny was thrown out the window scratching his windshield and he wants someone from upstairs to pay for a new window. Even thought the cops seemed to be taking his side, nothing happened to the boys and we ended up getting to the airport about the same time we wanted to get there by. Then it took forever to check-in and get through security. By the time we got the the waiting area, we only had 5 minutes before we got in line to board the plane. So we walk out to the plane, yes, we walked – there was no gate that you walked right onto the plane throguh, and we all got sets next to eachother. I sleep most of the flight and wake up just in time to hear the pilot explain to us that Venice is completely fogged in and after a failed attempt to land, that we were going to have to go back out to Milan to land. I think, Venice – Milan, both in northern Italy, so not a big deal, right? WRONG!! very wrong. After we got to Milan and went through immigration there, we board a coach bus for just over 3 hours to Venice…that’s longer than we were in the air from Dublin to Venice, find we can’t land and fly to Milan. So the first half our day was wasted there.

Once we finally arrive at the correct airport, we were greeted by a shuttle driver that was taking us to our hostel. We went, checked in, dropped off all our stuff and then caught a bus into the city. We had some dinner, had our first authenitce Italian gilatto and walked around not having any idea where we were for about four hours til we caught the shuttle back to the hostel. We spent the evening wandering through different alleys of the city in awe of all the beautiful masks, glass work and architecture. As for my first meal in Italy, I was not impressed as my dinner was not what I expected, plus I did not feel the pasta or sauce was exceptional as I would have thought it would be, although the gilatto I had that night was absolutely amazing!

On Saturday, we spent the entire day in Venice. We walked around alot again and were completely lost for over half the day but that didn’t matter since we were able to see so much of the city. After we stopped for a bite to eat, we went on a gondala ride through part of Venice. It was absoulely one of the best things in Venice and totally worth it. Then we made our way down to San Marco because we wanted to go to Murano island to see the glass blowing only to find out that it is too late and everything over there would be closed shortly. So instead, we walked along the canal in San Marco and looked in a bunch of stores and vendors. Then we started to head back to the other side of Venice and grabbed some dinner on the way to the shuttle. This dinner was much better than that of Friday night and we got a free canoli 🙂

We woke up extra early on Sunday to get into the city early and get to Murano island. We got out there a little after 10 and went to the glass factory. We were able to see a vase and horse be made. Then we did some shopping in the factory, but the best was on our way back to the water taxi to Venice, we passed a little shop on the side where everything was on sale as the store was under renovation and they just wanted to get rid of all of their inventory. So then we headed back to San Marco for some lunch and I had some amazing pizza, but I still prefer NY pizza. Then we want to St. Marc’s Square and fed the pigeons. Or at least, I attempted to feed the pigeons but since I am afraid of pigeons, it didn’t last long for me. Then we went into the Basillica. The Basillica is beautiful beyond words and the view of the square you have from there is unbelieveable. After exploring the Basillica, we went back into the square and I tried to feed the pigeons again, but by that time they were too full and I was only able to get one to eat out of my hand but none to land on it.

We headed back towards the shuttle early as we had a long day and had done so much walking all weekend. We found a nice snack bar near the shuttle stop and right on the Grand Canal and I had my best meal in Italy by far.

This morning we headed back to Dublin and arrived around noon. The flight back was fine, but getting to our apartment was much harder than anyone could have imagined as the Dublin Marathon was on today and the finish line was in Merrion Square, so we had a very long detour just to get back from the other corner of our block. But now I am off to rest up as I leave bright and early tomorrow for Edinburgh til Thursday.