{Corey’s 30th Birthday in Italy}

A little disclaimer on this post. This blog is just as much for me as it is for all of my lovely readers, so on special occasions such as my husband’s 30th birthday, there are memories I want recorded. I’m aware this post is wayyy too long for most of you, so feel free to just skim over to the photos – no hard feelings. The writing is mostly for me to remember this special day 🙂
—————–
Corey and I met when he was 25. At the time, I was 21 and still in college, so 25 to me seemed really mature and old. Well, not old, but definitely older than me. For some reason, shortly after we started dating, and I was sure Corey was the one, I started obsessing over his 30th birthday. I love celebrations and I love any excuse to go big for them. So in the years since meeting, I’ve had many ideas for his 30th ranging anywhere from a trip to Mexico to a big surprise bash.
When we decided we’d be moving to Europe last summer, I realized all my plans for Corey’s 30th would have to change. The thing that made me the saddest was knowing that his family and friends wouldn’t be able to share in this milestone birthday with him. So, I did two things: One, I planned an awesome trip to Italy for him (who can be sad & homesick when they’re in Italy?!), and two, I got his family and friends involved, from an ocean and continent away. Here’s how it all went down…
The morning of Corey’s birthday we woke up bright and early (4:30AM) to catch a luxurious cab ride (we normally bike to the train station and take the train to the airport) to catch our 7AM flight to Naples, Italy. From Naples we took a series of buses and trains to get to our final destination: Positano, Italy. I’d be lying if I said the journey wasn’t quite a long and tedious one. We touched down in Naples around 9AM and didn’t get to our B&B until 2PM. There were times I started feeling like maybe this was a bad idea – all this traveling on his actual birthday, that’s no way to spend your 30th! …
…Fortunately, the second we stepped into our room at the B&B and saw our gorgeous terrace overlooking the sea I knew this was going to be a very special birthday and it was worth the journey there. There was cake (traditional Italian cake of chocolate & almonds – so yummy!) and wine waiting for us in the room (I called ahead :), so we quickly uncorked the wine, poured two glasses, got into our bathing suits and plopped down on the two sun loungers on our deck. Not two minutes later I sprung out of my chair and announced to Corey that he will now be receiving his gift…
…I disappeared into our room and came back out with a single letter. From me to him. It was more like a novella of sorts, filled with lots of loving words, birthday wishes, and other fun mushy stuff! Also in my letter I informed him that I wanted to get his friends and family to help him celebrate this special birthday, so they all wrote cards and letters for him*. I once again disappeared into our room and this time came out with a big stack of letters. We spent the rest of the afternoon drinking wine, eating cake, staring out at the gorgeous view and reading touching and hilarious letters from his wonderful friends and family. Corey is an incredible son, brother, friend, husband and so much more, and it was so clear in these letters how loved he is by so many people in his life. He makes us all better people and he is always there for us, through thick and thin. And best of all, the guys knows how to make you laugh 🙂 The best quality in a man, I must say!
Before we knew it, we’d gone through all the letters, our skin was rosy from the delicious rays of sun and it was nearing time for dinner. We took a quick scenic walk around our B&B and then came back, got ready and headed out for one of the best meals of our lives at La Tagliata.
La Tagliata is a traditional Italian eatery run by an incredibly sweet family. It’s located in the hills above Positano, so it has a breathtaking view of the city below. The second you arrive you are given a bottle of amazing house wine, a bottle of water, and for us, two glasses of champagne to celebrate the occasion. Shortly after, you start getting plates and plates of food. We never saw a menu – and realized about 20 minutes in there wasn’t a menu! They serve what Mama made that day and let me tell you, Mama knows how to cook! We were stuffed silly by the time dinner was over. The meal ended with glasses of limoncello and the entire restaurant singing “Happy Birthday” loudly to Corey. He was mortified, and I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.
I knew the years of planning had all paid off when Corey smiled that adorable smile of his and told me “This was the best birthday I’ve ever had”. It’s a day I don’t think we’ll ever forget. One of the best days ever.

{Photos ©  Liz Denfeld}
*I got this amazing idea from Sarah Tucker, of course! 🙂

{Was It Just a Dream?}

We got back from Italy on Wednesday morning… 
I am not exaggerating when I say it was one of the absolute best vacations we’ve ever taken together.
We truly felt like we escaped our everyday lives & stresses.
We got to soak up sunshine and just love on each other for six days straight.
That’s my idea of heaven.
And now we’re back…
And I’m feeling like it was all just a dream… A very, very good dream. 
I finally uploaded the 700+ photos I took and I can’t wait to share them with you.
For now… One of my favorites of the trip. Hope you have a fabulous weekend!
{Photo ©  Liz Denfeld}

{Paris: Pont des Arts}

Paris is one of the romantic cities in the world. It’s hard to explain why, really. Every city we’ve been to has been romantic and enchanting in its own way, but Paris is special. Maybe it’s the Eiffel Tower, or the French architecture, or the fact that I had always dreamed of going to Paris, strolling the cobblestone streets, stopping for cappuccinos and eating baguettes with the one I love. No matter the reason, it truly is an incredibly dreamy city. 
And it’s made all the more romantic by the Pont des Arts – the place people from all over the world go to forever lock their love to the bridge and throw away the key in the Seine River. I could’ve stayed on the bridge studying all the locks for hours. Being the hopeless romantic that I am I loved reading all the locks – intentions of love, unrequited love, and even marriage proposals! I found myself daydreaming about all the people who had been on the bridge before me – all of their stories, unique and mysterious. Who were they? Did they keep their promises?
Corey and I decided to lock our love and make a wish. We promised that we’d come back to Paris for our 25th wedding anniversary. Then we gave the key a smooch for good luck and tossed it into the Seine. As we walked away I couldn’t get the smile off my face imagining where we’d be in 23.5 years – 49 (me) & 53 (Corey) years old, still madly in love, our kids probably in college… And we’d go back to Paris to celebrate our love and reminisce on the time when we were young and carefree living in Europe, gallivanting across the continent to our heart’s content. Life will be different when we return, but it will be even more amazing than it is now. I’m sure of it.

{Photos of Corey and me by Tricia Seabold, all others ©  Liz Denfeld}

{A Mexican Dinner Date in Amsterdam}

Do you want to know what makes me reallyyy happy? New shoes + big hair + margaritas + date night, that’s what. Saturday night the huz and I decided we were in the mood for some chips and salsa and lime margaritas. We’d been hearing a lot about Los Pilones, a Mexican restaurant in Amsterdam. Supposedly it was good Mexican, just like home. Now, I can’t say I was blown away by the food (still on the hunt for an incredible Mexican restaurant here!), but the margaritas. Oh, the margaritas!! Seriously rivaled my favorite Portland margarita (which can be found at Casa del Matador on NW 23rd), which is saying a lot. We had such a fun time on Saturday night. It was just one of those dinners where we didn’t run out of things to talk about, or get tempted by the pull of the iPhone (come on, admit it, it happens to you too!). It felt like date nights back in the day, before we were married and lived together and knew everything about each other. After a few margs the laughter just wouldn’t stop – and yes we got stared at (it was a tiny restaurant), and yes we were totally “those Americans”. But I was having way too much fun to care about any of that. It’s nights like Saturday (and Friday) that I never want to forget. 
And a couple iPhone snaps!
{Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}

P.S. My shoes are from Zara and I used Katie’s tutorial to do my hair!

{Seville: Metropol Parasol}

After exploring the Real Alcazar we headed over to the Metropol Parasol. The structure is a new build, designed by architect Jüergen Mayer H., and opened in March of last year. Its honeycombed roof is made of polyurethane-covered wood and held together by a new type of glue (and is supposedly the world’s largest glued structure). It’s 450 feet long and seven stories high. At the base of the structure you can see a collection of ruins that were found in a parking lot in 2004, where the structure now stands. While I wouldn’t put this on a “must-see” list for Seville, I will say that it was a great way to get a beautiful view of the city, and it’s an incredibly unique structure that I had fun taking photos of!
We ended our stay in Seville with one last glimpse of the gorgeous Cathedral. If you visit the city, grabbing a drink from a rooftop terrace with a view of the Cathedral is a must. Our favorite was the terrace at Hotel EME. Unfortunately, they didn’t allow me to use my camera up there, so no photos, but it was amazing. Super swanky. The drinks were expensive, but the view and atmosphere were worth it! Below is the view from the terrace at hoteDoña Maria, which was also nice, but not as impressive as the terrace at EME.
And back on the ground in the main square:
{Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}

Well, I’m finally done with Seville posts! Make sure not to miss my post from yesterday (yes, I posted on a Sunday!) on the Real Alcázar, one of our absolute favorite sights in Seville.

Now on to photos of our weekend in Edinburgh- finally!!! So excited to share this fairytale city with you. I know you’re going to love it!

{Seville: Real Alcázar}

While walking around Seville, we found ourselves constantly ending up back at the Plaza del Triunfo. Pretty much any hour of the day there were dozens of people lined up outside of a beautiful mediaeval looking structure in the Plaza. We tried to figure out what the line was for (but let’s be honest, we didn’t try that hard) and we thought we figured out it was for some sort of Mother Theresa exhibit. We decided to pass. It wasn’t until Nicole had gone home Monday morning and Corey and I were looking over what was left on our Seville list that we realized we hadn’t seen the Real Alcázar. We made a bigger effort to find it, and the directions took us directly to that big line we’d seen so many times before. What was inside 
that gorgeous structure was absolutely breathtaking. The Palace was incredibly ornate, with a Moroccan design, and the gardens were like nothing we’d seen before. If you’re ever in Seville, the Real Alcázar is truly not to be missed.
*p.s. I know there’s a weird typo with the word “garden” above. Blogger won’t let me fix it.
We started our morning sitting in the sun, admiring the orange trees, drinking cafe con leche & writing postcards home. It was perfection.
Then it was off to the Real Alcázar:

{Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}

{Seville: Day 2}

Yay! I’m finally posting more photos from our Seville trip! Going back and looking through them I realized how much I already miss the sun (and Nicole) and need to get back to it! Good thing we’re heading to Barcelona in a few weeks 🙂
Our second day in Seville we walked and walked and walked. We started our morning with amazing churros from this little churro window that was hidden in a small alleyway. They were so good. We wanted to go back and get some more later in the day, but it was closed. Then we tried to go again the next morning and again, closed. We started to realize how lucky we were to taste them in the first place! Moral of the story: You need to eat churros in Seville. Those Disneyland ones have nothing on these.

Just a couple pretties from around the city.
Plaza del Triunfo
The entrance to Real Alcazar. I can’t wait to show you the inside. Uh-may-zing.
My two travel buddies for the weekend <3
Oh just a cute little square we happened upon
I’m fairly certain I’d never tire of these picturesque alleyways.
Beers for 1 Euro! We couldn’t pass that up 😉
Plaza de España stole our hearts. So incredibly beautiful.
Watching the sunset by the river every night. This is the life.

{Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}

{Back From Edinburgh}

Goodness, has it really been a week since I last posted? I’ve been a bad blogger.
Life has just been so busy lately. Between work, travel and trying to have a social life sometimes I don’t have the energy to blog. 
I still have a zillion photos from Seville to share with you. I’m really hoping I can get those done this week!
But for now, I leave you with a few photos from our day trip (from Edinburgh) to St. Andrews this past weekend. 
Let’s just say we had a really good time. Particularly me. This is my happy dance. 
Or what happens when husband tells me to show him “my moves”. He didn’t know what was coming!
We had the most incredible weekend hanging out with Megan + Stephen (she made me laugh so hard I cried!) and I just cannot wait to tell you all about it!! I wish culling and editing photos and getting all my thoughts down didn’t take so darn long.
Anyways, hope you hang in there with me – lots of good stuff to come 🙂
{Photos by my lovely husband!}

{Seville: Day 1}

Where We Stayed: While in Seville, we stayed at the Hotel Rey Alfonso X. It had a great central location, the rooms were modern and had a good amount of space and the staff was very friendly. The only con was that the walls are paper thin and we could hear EVERYTHING going on in the hallway. Kind of annoying when the maids are chatting away at 8 in the morning! At 75 EUR/night we were pretty happy with our choice.
The view from our room (definitely suggest getting a room that faces this back courtyard as opposed to the busy street out front):
Our first day in Seville we didn’t have much of an agenda. We dropped our bags upon arrival and quickly made our way to the main plaza by the Cathedral. We met up with Nicole and plopped down in the sun where we caught up over tapas and Sangria. It was the perfect introduction to the city. We then just wandered around the city and made our way down to the river to watch the sunset. It was incredible how many people were out enjoying the day. They just sit right down on the riverbank, bring their own food and beverages and lounge. 
We were just completely smitten with the cobblestone streets, rows of orange trees, the horse-drawn carriages and the crowds of people on every street and corner, living in the moment and enjoying the good life. I could really get used to the laid-back Spanish lifestyle! 
On our walk back to our hotel we stumbled upon this processional happening in the streets. We couldn’t figure out what was going on and felt rude asking. Any ideas?
MUCH more to come on our trip to Seville! 
{Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}