{Congratulations Mr. & Mrs. Graham!}

Our weekend in Scotland was absolutely perfect.
Megan and Stephen tied the knot on a rare + gorgeous sunny day in Glasgow.
We then wined and dined and celebrated the happy couple at the ridiculously amazing Cameron House in Loch Lomond.
It was an incredibly beautiful day that honored an incredibly beautiful couple. 
Keep an eye out for wedding photos and recaps over on Megan’s blog.
Once she’s finished recapping I’ll post some photos over here too!
Thanks again to the Grahams for letting us be a part of their special day – and an even bigger thanks for trusting me enough to photograph this momentous occasion. I truly hope I did your wedding justice – it was pure perfection!

Love you guys and congrats again!
{Photo © Liz Denfeld Photography}

{Madrid: Around Town}

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When we moved to Europe we made a huge list of cities we wanted to visit while we were living abroad. The list was long. Way too long to accomplish seeing all these beautiful places in two years. We’ve put a dang good dent in those cities, but there are still many on our list. One that wasn’t on our list? Madrid.
To be honest, as an American, you hear way more about Barcelona than you do about Madrid. And I remember a year and a half ago when we researched Madrid for a quick weekend away, we realized there really weren’t any notable sites we felt like we had to see, so we scratched it off our list.
Well, then Nicole moved to Madrid and she raved about how incredible it was – even saying it was more amazing than Barcelona. I trust that girl’s opinion, so a few months after she moved Corey and I booked a quick weekend visit. I am so glad we did. Madrid isn’t about any specific sites, it’s just about being a big beautiful city packed with charm, beautiful architecture and really good Italian food (What! I know, strange, but true.). We so enjoyed our weekend in Madrid and only wished it would’ve been a teensy bit warmer (but when do we not wish that?!). Hanging out with Nicole is always such a treat! And what’s not to love about having a personal city guide?! She showed us all the best parts of her new home. Here are some snaps from all around town. I hope they give you an idea of just how gorgeous Madrid is!
P.S. A few travel tips below the photos if you’re looking for Madrid suggestions 🙂
 {If you find yourself in Madrid – here are a few places we suggest you don’t miss (many pictured above!): Retiro Park, Mercado de San Miguel, Chocolateria San Gines (for the most amazing churros – be prepared to wait in line), Plaza de Oriente, al fresco lunch at Cafe de Oriente, Plaza Mayor, Vertical Garden at CaixaForum followed by coffee and a treat at the Vertical Cafe, Templo de Debod, and my biggest tip of all (thanks to Nicole), dinner at Piccolo Diavolo – get the pasta with pear and ricotta. I know it sounds crazy, and we were totally skeptical, but Nicole convinced us it was the best thing she’s ever eaten, and goodness was she right. We returned the next night to have that dish!}
{We stayed here. We found the location to be great, the price to be fantastic, and the place was comfortable and cute}

{Madrid: Retiro Park}

We started our first morning in Madrid with a run through Retiro Park. Clearly I had to go back so I could take pictures. It was pretty quiet in the earlier hours of the morning when we were running, but once we returned later that day it was packed with runners, roller bladers, dogs, strollers, you name it. It was chilly out, but the sun was shining, and everyone was out enjoying it. We even saw an adorable impromptu puppet show being watched by a huge crowd of kids – it was the most darling thing ever! We’ve noticed that almost every major European city we’ve visited has a massive city park (or two or three or four) right smack dab in the city center – something you don’t find much outside of New York City’s Central Park. Visiting all these parks has become one of our favorite things to do on weekend getaways.
 {Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}

{Three Things}

Happy, happy Friday! 
I’ve got three things for you today…

First… Hop on over to Aspiring Kennedy to see the maternity photos I took for Lauren and her hubby, Tyler! She is seriously glowing and they were so much fun to take pictures of.
Second.. We’re off to Madrid for the weekend to hang out with Nicole, drink sangria and check out the city! I’m losing count of how many cities Nicole and I have met up in… San Francisco, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Seville…Now we’re adding Madrid – it’s going to be a great weekend! I’ll be Instagraming my little heart out – so follow me there if you’d like to see what we’re up to 🙂
Lastly.. I have spots for sponsorship opening up. Shoot me an email if you’re interested, I’d love to have you! exploredreamdiscoverblog {at} gmail.com
Have a great weekend!

{This Weekend…}

It was so much fun to head to London for the weekend to celebrate Lauren and her twin girls!
We had a bumpy start on Friday night.. But all was well by Saturday morning.
It was a pretty low key weekend filled with girly chats and brunch dates. My idea of perfect!
I even got to take some photos for Lauren and her hubby to mark this special time in their lives. I can’t wait to share! 
Sadly, I’m still sick, so I’m back to bed today. Learned my lesson last week that I won’t get better unless I rest, so I’m making that a priority!
What did you do this weekend? Anything fun? Hope you have a wonderful Monday!

{Italy: The Good // Part II}

As the late afternoon snuck up on us, we decided it would be fun to grab dinner in Florence – just an hour’s drive away. So we got gussied up, hopped in the car and made our way to the beautiful city just in time for every photographer’s dream – golden hour – and caught one of the most stunning sunsets I’ve ever seen.
I’m so grateful for these fun memories. It made the trip completely worth it despite my bad luck with food poisoning! I can’t wait to meet up with these ladies again someday (hopefully sooner than Megan’s wedding in Ireland next June)!

P.S. Did you hear Lauren’s exciting news?! Hop on over to her blog to find out!!
The gorgeous views from Piazzale Michelangelo
A stunning sunset on the Ponte Vecchio
Aperitivos at the Ferragamo Hotel
{Photos ©  Liz Denfeld}

{Italy: The Good, Part I}

Before things went downhill, I happened to have one of the most fun 24 hours ever. Lauren and I arrived in Italy Thursday afternoon, got our rental car, and set off to find our Tuscan villa. I’d be lying if I told you we didn’t get lost on those tiny Italian roads a time or two, but it made it all the more fun! We spent hours catching up, not one moment unfilled by chatter. I’m sure this isn’t news to all of you, but what I share (and most bloggers, for that matter) here on my blog is a small fraction of my life. The same went for Lauren, so we had endless topics to cover as we got to know each other outside of our blogs. By nightfall, it was time to pick Megan up from the airport. From there, we stayed up until the wee hours in the morning (okay, it was only 2AM, but still, that’s late for me!) having a major girl talk session over a bottle of red and some yummy food. The three of us were fast friends, just as I had expected.
The next day we woke up late and made our way out to the pool where we lounged, took a lot of pictures (we’re bloggers – gotta document!), talked some more and generally just chilled out. It was perfection. And yes, we all are wearing black one-piece bathing suits, and no it wasn’t planned 🙂
 {photo #8 by Lauren, all others ©  Liz Denfeld}

{Our Tuscan Villa}

I always knew that if I got the chance to visit Tuscany I’d want to stay in a Tuscan villa. For one, there are just so many to choose from, and for two, staying out in the country in a quaint and rustic Italian home just really appealed to me.
I searched far and wide for the perfect place for Megan’s hen do celebration and when I stumbled upon this place on Airbnb I knew it was the one. It’s located 10 minutes outside Lucca, so it’s a great hub to make day trips to Florence and Cinque Terre, it has four gorgeous bedrooms and three bathrooms, it’s updated but still has that Italian charm you’ve always envisioned in your head, and it has a pool (set among olive trees no less!). And maybe the best part: The price is right.
This place didn’t disappoint. As I was laying on the couch in misery, sick with food poisoning, I actually felt thankful to be sick in such a beautiful place. I acknowledged that it could’ve been way worse and decided to count my blessings instead of my misfortunes 🙂
Bottom line: If you’re looking for a place to stay in Tuscany, look no further! It really doesn’t get better than this

{photo #1 by Megan, photos #2 & 3 by Lauren, all others ©  Liz Denfeld}

{Italy: The Bad & The Ugly}

I debated for a few hours if I should first tell you about the awesome 24 hours I had in Italy, or if I should first tell you about the 48+ hours that followed that were pretty much my worst nightmare come to life…
I decided I’d start with the bad, so I could get it in my past as soon as possible, and make it stay there forever.
Long story short, I got a bad case of food poisoning on our awesome blogger blate in Italy. Most of you will wonder what I ate that made me so sick.. I wish it was something more cool and obvious, but it was a nectarine(of all things!) I bought at a super tiny, crappy little convenience store in Florence. It had clearly been cross contaminated with some nasty bacteria because it didn’t take long for me to get sick. 

Poor Megan and Lauren had to endure me upchucking all over Florence (in bathrooms, on the street, on the side of the highway…) and then throughout the night and even into the next day at our lovely villa outside of Lucca. That felt like the longest night of my life. I swore I was dying and I needed a hospital. It was awful. Only made more awful by the fact that my body was so torn apart and depleted that even when the throwing up had stopped, I was too weak to go anywhere or do anything for the entire rest of the trip.
There are so many other awful details, but for now I’d rather just focus on the fact that I’m slowly but surely getting my strength back, I’m back in my bed in Amsterdam and that Megan, Lauren and their guys (and of course Corey!) were the sweetest and best caretakers. It could’ve been really terrible and awkward to be sick around people I didn’t know very well, but they made me feel so comfortable, and I’m forever grateful for that.
So for all of you who have ever read my blog and felt even in a twinge of jealousy… here you go. Crappy things happen on awesome travel adventures, too! And I’m here to report back on those as your loyal travel blogger 🙂 I’ll be sharing the few photos I have from our Italian getaway just as soon as I’m feeling up for it. Hopefully soon!
P.S. Thanks for all of your thoughtful and concerned comments and tweets on Instagram & Twitter – they kept me great company while I was up in the middle of the night!
{you can always rely on bloggers to document everything, even me being sick on the couch! Thanks for the photo Lauren 🙂 }

{Have an Amazing Weekend!}

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, or you read Meganor Lauren’s blogs, you probably already know that as we speak I am on an epic blate (blog+date) in Tuscany with the two of them! It’s just us girls for now, lounging by the pool of our Tuscan villa, but the boys are joining us this weekend! I’m excited for good wine, girl talk and some sun! I’ll be back here on Tuesday. Until then, have a fabulous weekend!