BernNCourt Return

Isn’t it amazing that you can go months without seeing a friend but yet you both put the effort in to see each other? If you don’t have those kind of friendships, get yourself at least one! Even if she or he is 10 years younger than you.

Barcelona, Spain –
January 2018

Courtney and I have been friends since she started working for me at my restaurant around my birthday. I’d say she was my birthday present because we instantly connected, had so many laughs and traveled quite a bit together. She has watched my Bevo, she stays at my pad when I’m traveling and I completely trust her. Did I mention she’s fun?

Snapchat fun at La Pepita – Barcelona, Spain – January 2018

Well, now my Court Court is super busy with going back to school, working full time and commuting. I definitely have done that. Plus, I partied. It’s the life of One Busy Bee. I haven’t seen her since my birthday in September. We finally got together eight months later. She even agreed to meet up an hour away from her home just to return home before she headed another hour+ to work. I am so appreciative of that.

We met up at the Tri Valley Bistro in Pleasanton, California. It was available on OpenTable and it looked cute. It had some intimate tables outside but I knew we needed a bit more space between us and our dining neighbors. We opted for a table for two inside.

Pleasanton, California – May 2019

What do we always do? Order a bottle of bubbles. I had the seafood frittata and she had the eggs benedict and she wanted to crème brulee. I wasn’t planning on eating half of it but I did. And I felt like I finished more than half the bottle. What happened to my Court Court? She turned into a dedicated student.

Cheers

We got caught up on each others’ lives, shared more laughs, silliness, stories and where we are traveling next. She is going back to Paris, as am I, but at different times. She likes art. I can’t spend my entire vacation in a museum. Unfortunately, we don’t have any plans of traveling together anytime soon but perhaps when she’s not so crazy busy ‘adulting.’ Regardless, I’ll still be here whenever she needs me and I know she would do the same for me. Love my Court Court.

#BernNCourt
Rome, Italy – Day 2 of 12
Florence, Italy – Day 6
Venice, Italy – Day 7
Milan, Italy – Day 9
Happy Birthday, Court Court

La Familia Sagrada, Barcelona, Spain – January 2018

Wine Tasting July 2017 – Sebastopol, CA

July is here and we kicked it off well with a trip to wine country. The event was booked a week before with Dianne, a Rodan & Fields, rep that was at the Summer Soire event at my home last weekend, stating she’s never been. I researched tasting rooms that do not require an appointment and we ended up with a group of 8.

Dianne didn’t end up making it after all but we had fun. She totally missed out on Ektimo Vineyards, Fog Crest Vineyards and Macphail at the Barlowe, plus beer and BBQ at the Crooked Goat Brewery.
The drive was easy up from Hayward to Sebastopol. We sang country songs and my International trip is booked for May 2018 to Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and Cozumel, Mexico! With Cour Court’s timeshare, she had these special offers to travel. A seven day cruise is booked and I highly recommend paying for the open bar! For my 2012 cruise, it only cost us $700 on Celebrity. Completely worth it!
We arrived at our first stop, Ektimo Vineyards, after a bumpy road off the main road. We were the last group to arrive but quickly introduced my friends that were already there. And we got to it with flights and great hospitality provided by Ken. Angela and her mom, Dolores, are chardonnay drinkers, Kim likes white, Court, the rest of the group and I typically prefer red wines. Everyone bought a bottle so it was a good visit! I went with a Petite Syrah bottle. The last time I went wine tasting in Sebastopol was probably 2014 or 2015 and I did buy a Petite Syrah bottle then as well. We went to Sunce and Dutton Goldfield and Ironhorse on that trip.

Our next stop was at Fog Crest Vineyards. It has a beautiful entrance, a long driveway up to the tasting room that we saw had a patio as we made the turn and gasped. Park on the gravel slope and walk thru the garden and you’ll see a banner saying the Winemaker’s statement saying the rose is the best he’s ever made. 
We walked in and started off at the counter with 7 tastings. We said we wanted to sit on the patio and the nice gents set up a table for us and positioned the umbrellas appropriately. They poured us this self-promoted rose first and that there were notes of strawberries and peaches. “OMG” was my response. We all fell in love with this rose. It was amazing.

We continued with the tasting with two cheese plates and Oliver was attentive and helpful. We had their estate Pinot Noir and two Chardonnays. My good friend, Nikki, came out as well after some family time. It was great to have her. She has two more days at a job she’s not happy with so it’s nice to be able to celebrate with her on a change needed in her life.

Court Court immediately wanted to join the wine club. I don’t join wine clubs as I have so much wine easily accessible to me thru DW. But this rose! So damn good. Court signed up and I got a total of three bottles thru her for 20% off – one Pinot Noir, one Chardonnay and of course that delicious Rose!

Angela and her mom headed out, saying she’s a lightweight. But we did want to schedule a bar crawl in Hawyard. I’ll plan that. We said our goodbyes but not before a photo.

With Court Court signing up for the wine list, we were treated to several double and triple tastes of anything we wanted. I reconfirmed that I wanted those three bottles. They were pretty amazing. We went inside to get our bottles and they were nice enough to pour us some from a limited release of 50 cases. Yum!
I passed on more wine onto Court Court and said I had to drive. Then they gave me an organic Capri Sun juice pack. What service!
We were getting hungry and had to go. Another cheese plate wasn’t going to hold us over. So we made our way to the Barlowe but first stopped at MacPhail with another cheese plate. This was my second time here and we sat outside though it was a bit breezy. This is where I got a nice tan. Unfortunately, we weren’t that thrilled with the wines. Fog Crest was hard to beat! No one bought any bottles but friendly service from Cameron.

We then made our way for some beer at the Crooked Goat Brewing Company.  Our group sat outside on the patio with picnic tables with umbrellas. Owners brought their dogs, we had beer flights and almost everything on the food menu. The winning beer for me was the Vanilla Bean Stout and the pulled pork sliders were great. The Caesar salad had a light dressing, the corn bread and butter was good however the much anticipated mac and cheese was a bit of a disappointment for the table. But we had a great time and made new memories.

Until next time, Sebastopol. I’m sure Court Court and I will be back to pick up her shipment and to wine taste some more. There are so many places!

Check out my California winery log HERE! Start yours and share the link with me in the comments below!

Happy Birthday, Court Court!

We have done quite a bit together in the year and a half that we have known each other. #BernNCourt adventures continue.

She asked me, ‘What are we doing for my birthday?

“When’s your birthday?”

“April 11th.”

“I’m, I mean guess we’re going to see Black Swan.”

“OK!”

And just like that, plans were made. It was a similar, quick conversation when I asked her if she wanted to go to Italy or France.

I fell in love with the ballet when Cristen and I decided to go see The Nutcracker. I know people that make it an annual tradition. I have never seen it. Up on the balcony with our $40 tickets, I was captivated. The next week, I bought a 3-pack of tickets for the upcoming season AND even donated a pretty amount. Worth it? Perhaps as we were got to seat orchestra level this time. I was so excited.

But it was Court’s birthday. I met her in the lobby of the Twitter building and we walked towards Cafe Delle Stelle on Hayes, as I blew bubbles wherever we went. The bubble tubes were part of our recent Women Wednesday event at DW.

We were sat and looked over the menu. We ordered a bottle of the rose prosecco and appetizers. I had the muscles with gorgonzola with a white wine sauce and flatbreads. Court had a salad. I asked our server if the kitchen could possibly make me a carbonara. I have been craving an amazing carbonara since Italy. He said they couldn’t do it and I went with the hand made, hand stuffed Tuscan kale and ricotta ravioli, tossed with a creamy lemon zest. Court went with the rigatoni with sea bass, mushrooms, sweet peas and creamy marsala. We enjoyed the prosecco, I really enjoyed the mussels but I wasn’t too thrilled with everything else. We actually had majority of our entrees boxed up and left atop a garbage can on the street for a homeless person.

Dessert did come out for Court and it was tiramisu with a candle. If I knew how to say Happy Birthday in Italian…

We then sought out a bar. Not an uncommon thing for us to do. We popped our head into Absinthe to see if there were any spots at the bar. Negative. We stopped into Arlequin, a wine shop attached to a deli and they served cheese and charcuterie. Nope, no available seats either.  We then stopped at The Hayes Street Grill and found a seat the bar. I offered it up to Court and the sweet lady that was also headed to the ballet was on her way out. We ordered dessert wine and dessert. Unfortunately, they were out of the strawberries and zabaglione so we went with the creme brulee. She enjoyed it.

We texted Mercedes as she was going to go to the ballet too with a coworker. We followed her to the opera house and found her in line for drinks. We were going to meet up after this amazing show.

Swan Lake was gorgeous. I have seen The Nutcracker and Frankenstein. I loved the tutus, the solos by the prima ballerina and the music. Court said she hasn’t been to ballet since she was a kid. She loved it as well.

We met back up with Mercedes and her coworker and discovered it was raining outside. Where to next? We needed late night snacks and drinks and decided not to go to DW. So we went to Mr. Tipples to end the night after a fun walk in the rain using our ballet programs as shelter from the rain. We ordered almost everything on the menu and called it a night. Court had to catch Bart back to the deep East Bay.

27. So young.

See the other adventures of #BernNCourt HERE.

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This is #15 of 30 daily blog posts to hit 10,000 hits in one month. I did the same challenge in April 2016. Thank you for visiting and please check back tomorrow and share anything you like!

Sonoma International Film Festival – 2017

I have been to Park City, Utah but it wasn’t during the Sundance Film Festival where you see many celebrities wearing down jackets and designer beanies in Entertainment Weekly. I wanted to go to my first film festival and cross that off my list!

I checked out the screening schedule and there were a few available on my only available date. There were several films about the food and beverage industry. How perfect. I went with Tuna, Farofa and Spaghetti about three Brazilian chefs heading back to their roots and brought three friends.
However, when in Rome, we had to wine taste. We went to Viansa. I was just there in November but I had to check out their venue for June 2018 wedding. The grounds are beautiful and the pavilion can be customizable. That info is for another blog post. They revamped the tasting room since November but they still allow dogs. We sat outside as it was a beautiful day. Sadly we witnessed a worker trip on stairs and cut his hand pretty bad on the glasses that shattered in his hand when he fell. Paramedics arrived. I hope he’s ok.

Per my Wine Director’s recommendation, we went to Schug Winery. Find it up on a hill and the a small tasting room with very personable staff. We had their flight and I had was gifted their Sauvignon Blanc and planned to drink it with my Sunshine in the sunshine the following day. Thank you, Angelina!  Court bought the bubbles that we got to taste that wasn’t on the tasting menu.

Next, we ended up at Anaba down the hill. It was 30 minutes before they closed and they were still busy. Outdoor seating was unavailable so we stood at the counter. No problem. By that time, we were loose and not a single silent moment passed. We were having a good time and our pourer loosened up once she saw how much fun we are. I ended up buying a gift bottle of port for my friend’s birthday that was coming up. I remember going wine tasting with him in Carmel Valley many years ago and he enjoyed the port.

Jewelry by Stella & Dot with the ‘Nectar of the Gods’ the Roussanne. Delicious!
Jewelry by Stella & Dot

Then it was time to head to the Sonoma International Film Festival. As we approached the square, we noticed plenty of parking and next to no foot traffic. We parked and went to get our tickets at will call, which apparently was at a different part of the square. I wasn’t going to chase that down. And we were hungry so we hunted down some food and found cheese curls, burgers and fries called B&V Whiskey Bar and Grill. We were craving cheese and charcuterie. Fail.

However, the food was decent. Court had the crazy lobster Bloody Mary and a burger. I had the Tennessee Mistress cocktail with a lobster salad and the Mac and Cheese. I tried our friend’s cheese curls. I can’t say anything blew my mind but it was satisfying our hunger.

Tennessee Mistress
Cheese curls
Cheese curls, mac & cheese, lobster salad

We made our way back to the museum where the film was showing. They asked for tickets. I didn’t have them. I had to look up the tickets on my phone but m
y connection was terrible. They let us in anyways. When I bought the tickets a few weeks before there were only 12 tickets left. As we entered, there was room for at least 30 more guests. I wonder what happened.

The film is like porn for foodies. My jaw dropped several times. The ingredients, the shots as dishes are being prepared and the plating was mouthwatering.  I have been to Italy and France but not Japan and I love sushi. Did Japan make it to my list of must visit spots now? Court and I couldn’t help but say ‘I want that’ like you would say ‘I want to see that’ or ‘that looks stupid’ after movie trailers. It’s 90-minutes of drooling. Wet floors ahead.

It was a great day in Sonoma. Definitely check out those great wineries and support independent films. San Francisco’s Film Festival is happening now I believe. 

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This is #7 of 30 daily blog posts to hit 10,000 hits in one month. I did the same challenge in April 2016. Thank you for visiting and please check back tomorrow and share anything you like!

#250KChallenge 2017 Ends

Let’s be honest, I didn’t do well at all with this challenge. I am not where I want to be physically but I think I am still strong and am pretty proud that I can get back to jogging a 5K. It hurt, but I got it done.

I did take after photos yesterday and compared them to the photos from 12 weeks ago. Not a single thing has changed and I didn’t want to post them. I am disappointed but I can only blame myself. I was pretty happy, working a lot, indulging in food and drink and having a good time. I didn’t work out every single day like I did last year and my diet was terrible.

Today, I am dressed for the gym, ordered my Shredz supplements and will be creating a workout schedule. I would like to eat better and limit drinking, which is hard to say as I have a bottle of wine chilling in the fridge for later this afternoon. My Sunshine is coming over. It’s been almost a year since she left to travel the world. Then I am heading back up to wine country to spend time with my Nikki B. next Sunday after church with my Lola.

Other plans include continuing to do two BodyRock HIIT videos a day, sign up for a 5K race and actually do it, hit the gym and eat better. And continue to share my post workout Snaps (@bappletree) with friends to get them to keep moving. 

My first ever sports bra by Adidas. It must be 20 years old!

Wish me luck on making some changes. I would love to trim some inches around my waist and tighten that mid-section.

Dress by Hot Miami Styles, shoes by BCBG & jewelry by Stella & Dot.
Follow ‘BevoTheBoston‘ on Instagram.

What are your goals?

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This is #3 of 30 daily blog posts to hit 10,000 hits in one month. I did the same challenge in April 2016. Thank you for visiting and please check back tomorrow and share anything you like!

#BecauseGoals

The hashtag comes from Fit & Thick and the beautiful Nicole Mejia that I follow on Instagram. I use it when I’m feeling motivated and determined. Let’s be real, this #250KChallenge thru Bodybuilding.com isn’t going so well with one week left but I’m trying. I have had successes, a poor diet with lots of whiskey but I have managed to still work out at least five days a week. Not bad. I just wish the progress was noticeable. I write this after reading a part of the Spring 2017 issue of On Investing from Charles Schwab late last night. Friday night party animal, right here!

Two headers caught my attention that I shared via Snapchat (bappletree) and my Instagram Story.

Start saving and investing today.
&


I posted the above Instagram with caption:
On my late night date with Chuck (reading Charles Schwab on #Investing mag, that is) after prepping to do my taxes, I thought I’d share this. I have/had so many students on my staff and those not so great with money. I would liek to say I have encouraged many to start somewhere no matter how small. For instance, I suggested stop buying their daily $5 +Starbucks Coffee and put that money aside in savings and/or invest it. You’re really not going to miss $5. Green tea is better for you anyways. 🙂 For em, I want to continue to the live a certain lifestyle, have my #goalby40 that I’m working on and always hustlin’ doin’  what millionaires do: have at least seven streams of income. I’m downsizing in unnecessary physical stuff (thx +Close5+Poshmark), earning savings by doing next to nothing via #tech (mPlaces, +Shopkick) and taking advantage of #free tickets and opportunities for new, fun experiences as much as I can. Need help? I am no financial advisor but I’ll do what I can! Seems like a great #blog post to write. Stay tuned!”

And so the blog post is up. 
See the disclaimer? I am definitely no financial advisor. I am making an attempt to get familiar with the different ways to invest, the terminolgy and understand the tax implications with certain decisions and what’s best to reach my goals. My father is my financial advisor and he does pretty well for myself. He’s living the life I want. As the independent woman he has encouraged me to be, I eventually want to make smart decisions about my money on my own in terms of my investments. With the ridiculous raising cost of healthcare and the money I would need for my retirement, I feel I am well behind.
However, I can say I am ahead of the game of some people I know. I was young once too and was terrible with money. I had multiple credit cards and didn’t feel like I could get ahead. However, at the time, I also had my first big girl job with benefits and started my first 401K. I started at 19 years old. Seventeen years later, the funds have increased however had I saved more, I would have had a lot more by now. Start saving and investing today.” 
Do you know what your net worth is? I have calculated my value and I want that number up! How do I plan to do that?
1) Seven streams of income – keep these going, improve my businesses, make my numbers and grow, Baby, grow! Advertise on my blog!
2) Save – I have an amount automatically taken out of my checking account and dumped into an investment on a monthly basis. I also have a minimum for my savings account to be at and each time it is reached, the original minimum increases. Eventually I will take that excess and reinvest it.
3) Minimize – as I get older, I am finding that I don’t need stuff. I solely desire shoes more than anything if I do buy something materialistic. I have splurged in Milan, Italy with my first Gucci and Georgio Armani purses and I now have no need for anything that costly. I can’t remember the last time I purchased a pair of shoes. I value experiences more than anything nowadays. I love to travel. I want to try new restaurants, unique cocktails. When wanting to celebrate love or special people in my life, I would rather give them experiences as well. 
I am trying to minimize by selling fashions on +Poshmark (onebusybeebolog – use invite code UPSCY for $5 credit after your first purchase) and have even sold my first item in two days, which were a pair of Grace in LA jeans that I didn’t even buy for myself. I am selling dresses, shoes and retired Stella & Dot jewelry for cheap. After all, these items are just sitting around, not being used. I might as well get something for it! I also have items listed on Close5.

4) Free stuff – I went to two comedy shows this week for free. When the opportunity presents themselves, take it! My girlfriend had an extra ticket to see Bill Burr in San Jose. Yes! Ticketmaster also sent out an email giving away two tickets to see Erin Foley at the Punch Line Comedy Club in San Francisco. I submitted a request and I was chosen. See autographed CD by Erin and the Punch Line also reposted my Instagram image to their 4,660 followers. Free exposure! Yes!

Contests – it takes two seconds to enter contests. I play the Safeway Monopoly game
and have already won free bread, an avocado, yogurt (hello! Who doesn’t love free food!) And a $5 Fandango discount I used for this Sunday to see the new Beauty and the Beast movie with Court Court.


I have won a trip to the Grammy’s in Los Angeles, movie and concert tickets, DVD, CDs and more. I hope to win another trip soon.
Then there’s tech – I just redeemed my first $25 Amazon gift card by getting 62,500 coins via mPlaces. I have earned numerous Target gift cards as well but am a recent lover of Amazon because I don’t have time to go do errands for everyday necessities. I purchased Bevo’s Iams dog food and two Oil of Olay lotions that Target sometimes doesn’t have. With mPlaces, you also earn entries to win other gift cards and random goodies like wireless speakers, drones, make-up and jewelry.
Don’t forget about Shopkick. Unfortunately they got rid of their Hilton reward gift card. That would have helped with additional travel. I did use my last earned Hilton gift card when we went to New Orleans in 2015. I guess I will just continue earn towards another Amazon gift card.
Both of these apps are explained more in my ‘5 Apps I Use Before Getting Out of Bed‘ post. Check it out. 
I can’t forget about my Hawaiian Airlines card to free airfare. Yes, please! I put everything on that card, use the site to get bonus miles when booking other travel and when my friends that love to pay in cash, I will gladly get the points and take your dolla dolla bills. Please and thank you! 
I hope this post encourages you to start saving, investing and preparing financially for your future, as well as the future of your loved ones. Good luck!
Beach at Kiahuna Plantation, Poipu, Kauai, Hawaii – February 2017

St. Patrick’s Day 2017

My best friend is Irish. My boyfriend is Irish. And Jameson is pretty much my liquid boyfriend lately. This Catholic is all for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day this year.

The day started with what to wear – the color of shamrocks of course! I put on my Banana Republic button up and paired it with the retired Contessa Jade necklace by Stella & Dot. I received many compliments on the necklace. I remember the time I sold the same necklace off my neck at the bar The Wishing Crab of in Brentwood, CA.

Then it was time to work. The long day started with a lunch private party, then working an addition eight hours for a late dinner of 60 guests of Italianos! Italians eat late so it was understandable. A break was needed in between. Located one block over, Alta CA is open. Court Court and I headed over there to get a bite before we fed the next group.

Court had the Barbera and I tried their Flawless cocktail with mezcal, tequila, blood orange, vanilla, pecan, nonino and Galliano. It was served over crushed ice. The cocktail was pretty and Court was very happy with her glass of wine. For food, Court had their burger and I went with their Brown Rice Puffs served with an avocado dip with espelette. I have had their beef tendon puffs before with a malt vinegar powder (as reminded by The Dapper Diner) but these were much different. I asked for more dip and they were about to charge me but they hooked it up. Perhaps they knew we were neighbors.

We knocked out the private party and we deserved a reward or two. The kitchen broke out a bottle of the High West Double Rye Whiskey that we are pairing our dish with at the upcoming Whiskies of the World event on March 31st in San Francisco. Too lazy to walk to the bar for shot glasses, shots of whiskey were made from what ramekins we did have.

Six of us headed to Odd Job and I had three other friends join us as well. Yes, two visits to the same bar in 72 hours. We had a good time, almost made it to a strip club but ended back at DW for a smaller party. I had my first Irish Car Bomb in years with Teeling Whiskey, Guinness and housemade Irish cream. It was tasty and like the old days, it went down easy.

A bottle of Pol Roget, a plate of cheese and charcuterie and country music took us into the early morning, St. Patrick’s Day or not. It was a good time. I slept until 1:30 PM on Saturday. I needed that.

#250KChallenge 2017 – Week 3

Measurements today said I gained weight. Well damn. This isn’t going so well. And I know why. Whiskey and diet.

Last Sunday night, we had a foie gras private party. Our foie gras ice cream was the best offering. Just saying!

I also had a lot of caviar and crostinis. Damn those carbs! But nice shoes, right?

Shoes by Jessica Simpson and caviar from The Caviar Company.

The next day was my day off with MBT and we love whiskey as seen on my Instagram pic that the new Fort Green Bar in Oakland re-posted during Oakland Restaurant Week 2017

We also stopped at Havana in Walnut Creek for another beverage before going to our cooking class at Sur La Table. A separate post will be on that fun event.

The next evening, I had to attend my Cugino’s birthday dinner and I picked up Beard Papa’s Cream Puffs in San Mateo. They were pretty good! And not to mention the spread of meat, crab legs and birthday cake and wine. Oh goodness.

Seeing that I’m only on recapping the second day of the week and I know I make poor dining decisions with Court Court, I agree, I am eating extremely poorly. But it was SF Restaurant Week! We went to Plouf for a $40 3-course meal and then went to Pagan Idol because it was conveniently across the street! We had to get the $50 scorpion bowl-like thing. They light it on fire!

Eating terribly but still going to the gym! I see some progress but that could just be the shadows but I liked what I saw!

Snapchat ‘bappletree’ – New Spalding pants from TJ Maxx. $15 plus ShopKick points.
Nutrishop tank

Then it was dinner with Dylan with lobster, veggies, salad, a basil cocktail and gelato and sorbet. Kind of amazing. Then we checked out the new Sons of Liberty Alehouse also in San Leandro. Who knew! They have been open for 9 weeks and it was a good time.

But it was time to hike on Sunday morning. Trying to keep up with my resolution this year to hike once a month. We did almost five miles on Mt. Diablo (last time was in 2011,) then beer and BBQ at Southern Sweetwater Tavern in Danville. 

Soooo, goals for Week 4.

FOOD – I would say stop eating like garbage would be the best route. Tomorrow, Monday, will be tough. It’s my company party and Monday with MBT is usually my cheat day. I need that to be my ONLY cheat day.

WORKWEEK HUSTLE – I killed again in the work week’s hustle on Fitbit, with me in second place for the Weekend Warrior challenge and over 100,600 steps in the past seven days. I need to keep my streak going.

WATER – Need to count my water intake and flush out toxins. Sorry, Whiskey, you can’t stay in me forever!

What are your goals for Week 4?

Milan, Italy – Day 9

So sad to have to leave Venice after such a short amount of time. We were approaching the end of our trip and we had one city left: Milan. I have never been before and it’s the fashion capital of the world. I was planning on doing some damage, for sure.

We packed and headed down to get breakfast at the Ca’ D’Oro Hotel. This place had chocolate croissants, bread, cheese and prosciutto. I was still feeling ill so I had to have some orange juice with my meal. Notice the Nutella packets? Yum!

A porter was going to cost us quite a bit so we took our chances getting onto a water taxi. The device to pay didn’t accept cards and I didn’t have enough Euros. Sorry, Venice, I had no way to pay for our rides. And there was no one there to help us. I swear we weren’t trying to be ‘those tourists.’ We were cautious getting onto the boat with our heavy luggage and found a spot close to the entrance. The sun was shining and I wished we could have stayed just one more day.

We boarded our train and I wanted to sleep. Court continued to read her naughty book on her phone. Her radar was off on that train ride because there were three young Ciao Bellos in our car and one sat next to Court. Oblivious. While I’m being a creeper.

I actually didn’t sleep the entire ride and I took in the countryside view from my window seat. It seems like such a simple life out there. A train stop was in Verona, where the love affair of Romeo and Juliet took place. My father honored my request of sending me a post card from Verona when I was in high school. I’m pretty sure I still have it in a box.

We were pulling into Milan and I couldn’t believe my eyes. In the distance there were skyscrapers. The tall buildings were duomos you can see from afar. I was unsure whether or not I was going to like this city. But I was there. The train station was pretty cool. The loading areas were covered by high, arched structures. This is the kind of train station I envisioned in Europe.

We made our way to the taxi line and was taken to our hotel. On the way there, the skyscrapers reached the clouds, logo were on its sides and even an apartment building looked like it was trying to pull off being a tree like those cell phone towers here in the States. Weird.

We reached our hotel and a farmers market was happening on our street. It was pretty busy with many vendors selling fruits, veggies, clothes and dolls. We checked into the Una Hotel Scandinavia and it was definitely a nicer hotel. They had the largest elevators of all of the hotels we stayed in and the front desk was manned by more than one person.

Our room was great with a large closet, fancy bathroom, a large mirror, comfy beds that actually had room to be two beds, and the best wi-fi we’ve had all trip. AND they had a real gym! Oh yes, we were going to take part of that!

We freshened up, took advantage of the awesome wi-fi and headed out to explore. We used Yelp to find some local grub. We first stopped at a sports bar, sat at the bar and the bartendress seemed like we were a pain because I couldn’t understand her Italian very well. I looked at the menu and it seemed like it was stuff I could get at home: deep-fried finger foods. I’m in Milan and it’s our last city on our trip. I want to be wowed.

We stopped in a few other spots and I was just being picky. We ended seeing a sign for a small spot that had some deals like our first meal in Rome. They also had a long list of pizzas and calzones. Sold!

We were sat at a table for four and were served by our first heavy-set Italian man. Smiling and helpful, he brought us our beverages. I had the Calzoni Farcito with tomato, mozzarella, ricotta cheese, baked ham, mushrooms and artichokes. Court had a pizza. It was ginormous! And very filling. I couldn’t eat the crust but made it a point to eat all the insides.

Next, we headed out towards to Galleria Vittorinio Emanuel. We walked for quite some time and it was definitely a busy city. There were plenty of cars parked on the streets, cars passing by and people on bicycles. We eventually came across some modern restaurants and not just Italian cuisines. We found ourselves at the Arco della Pace, the Arch of Peace. It was meant to control an important road in Milan. Passed the Arch was a huge park with playgrounds, skate parks, basketball courts, a little creek and several people. It was common to see lovebirds sitting on the benches with the woman sitting on the lap of her love. We came across an area where there were tents set up. The city was preparing for an event the next day.

Passed this area was a wall of a fortress, Castello Sforzesco. It was built in the 15th century for the Duke of Milan. It now houses several museums. It is amazing how these structures have maintained themselves over the years. Imagine what it was like in its day. The grounds were extensive.

Just passed the other entrance was a circular fountain and a metro station entrance. Continue on this route and you will find yourself shopping, and large beer glasses, street performers and several opportunities to buy a selfie stick. I knew the Galleria was close by. I was ready to shop!

The Galleria Vittorio is just beautiful. Not for the designer items it houses but the structure is stunning. I have never seen a rotunda glass structure above me like that. I was awesome to finally see this in person. It was also exciting to know that I was going to splurge a little bit here.

After a few stops at Prada and Louis Vuitton, I narrowed down my selections to Giorgio Armani and Gucci handbags. I considered getting a pair of shoes but the handbags will last longer. I first spotted the red, alligator print Giorgio Armani bag. The salesman said that there were only seven left in stores in all of Europe. The other one I wanted was the bee embroidered, brown Gucci handbag. I wanted a classic print but with a little personality. The handbag was also a European exclusive, which means it was distributed to other continents.

Decisions, decisions. So I bought both!

I have never purchased anything that expensive for myself that wasn’t a car. My Gia Michael Kors handbag that I purchased at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas was $800 and my Jimmy Choos were also $800. But I deserve it, it was my money and I allowed myself this one time to splurge. The rest of my earnings will go to that goal by 40, real estate on Maui.

We also stopped at Marchesi for a snack. It was located on the second floor of the Galleria and it was bright, baby blue and well decorated with many of their goodies on display. It was interesting on how you order. You order beverages and some items at the counter, they give you a ticket and you go to the cashier to pay for it. I bought myself a little custard topped with fruit, cannolis and chocolates to bring back home since I left the ones I bought at The Florian in Venice at the bar. Doh! These were delicious. I bought a big box of chocolates. I heard that the box I selected was 19 euros. Oh, cheap! And then in the middle of the lady behind the counter boxing and tying a beautiful ribbon on my box, I then understood it was a 90 euro box of chocolates! They better like those damn chocolates!

We were then ready to head back to the hotel. I was carrying three bags worth thousands of US dollars. Just like Florence, we were unsuccessful in getting a taxi. Oh, how we missed Uber. We ended up walking all the way back to the hotel in the dark and through that huge park. My load was not light and I held it close to me just in case. Thank goodness we made it back to our hotel safely, with ‘my pretties’ safe in a closet.

A rest was much needed and then it was time to eat again. Again, Yelp was our savior. We found a spot and headed that way. It was close by. After the walk we had that day, I wasn’t trying to go very far. We were sat at a table for two and there was one server working for a small dining room. He had a good amount of customers and we were in no hurry but then we saw the deals they were offering. I had the seafood pasta and salmon and Court had the risotto and pork chop I believe. We started off with a piece of bruschetta and a glass of wine. I went with the white and I really didn’t like it so it was not drunk. The food wasn’t great but the service was friendly.

Guests at the long table next to us was getting louder and celebrating a woman’s birthday. Grandpa started a conversation with us and his cute grandsons across the table were smiling and making their apologies for his very friendly behavior. We greeted, did the cheek to cheek kiss and he went in for a kiss! Grandpa!!! Oh, Italian men. It never gets old to them.

And then we headed back to our comfy room before our last day in Italy.

#BernNCourtDoItalia – October 2016

Courtney and I are headed to Italy very soon! We are very excited and look forward to partying a little, being cleansed of those sins at The Vatican and getting an underground tour of the Colesseum in Rome. Though a mostly-straight twosome, we’ll enjoy a romantic gondola ride in Venice. We will visit David and Michaelangelo in Florence and shop our brains out in Milan. We foresee a lot of wine and pasta and ‘Ciao, Bello’s’ in our future.

This will be our third trip together since we met in September. We have done Vegas, will have gone to Paso Robles for my birthday and then Italy. 
Courtney and I are both in the food and beverage industry, love to party, enjoy fashion and shoes, all beverages, delicious food, trying new things, working out and can make friends anywhere because we’re both outgoing and hilarious. We look forward to meeting new people.
With that said, follow us via social media and our hashtag ‘#BernNCourtDoItalia’
If you would like us to visit your establishment, please email me! I will be blogging and adding pics and videos to my Instagram Stories and/or Snapchat.
Here are a few pics of our adventures: