Thursday, January 12, 2017

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.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

#250KChallenge 2017


It's on like donkey kong. I believe I have been doing these Bodybuilding.com challenges for two years now thanks to friends, Nikki B. and Tatiana, who were training to enter their first fitness competition. It started for me with this challenge two years and it was really fun.  I definitely saw a change after 12 weeks, especially in my profile and I felt great like I could keep going! And so I did and am!

The last two challenges were #MyFitSquad and #30DaysofFit. I've gained two new fitness buddies last year, Cristen and Erika. It's been really fun. We send each other Snapchats of us being really sexy and sweaty post workout. It helps encourage each other.

Supporting fellow blogger, Section 36.

Bevo the Boston on Instagram (@bevotheboston)




Cristen and I work together and also started a food blog on Instagram called 'We're Hungry Too" @werehungrytoo. Daily conversations between Cristen and I go like this:

Me: "I'm hungry!"
Cristen: "Me too!"

We had to call it We're Hungry Too. 


Diet is a big part of meeting your fitness goals. After all, abs are made in the kitchen. Us being hungry all the time will be our biggest challenge.

However, I am game! I am turning 37 this year and I want to be the fittest I have ever been. With the holiday season now over, I am surprised I can fit into my extra small clothes and I can actually see a little badonk back there. It also helps that someone I'm dating has taken notice and that this working out thing is working. I have never been complimented on my butt before. So obviously my goal for this challenge is to keep getting those booty gains and tighten up that midsection. 

A previous goal was also to log a million pounds lifted on BodySpace (bappletree) and I would reward myself with something pretty. I prematurely did that when I was in Milan and bought a Giorgio Armani and Gucci handbag. So one million pounds is also a goal. I believe I am currently at 450,000 pounds.


Before photos get posted on Sunday. Those are always fun. But it'll help to see where you're at and where you will be. That reminds me, I should get a new bikini.

What would I do with the $100,000 winning? It will definitely go towards my house in Maui. The goal is to have one there by 40.

Good luck to all the contestants!

***UPDATE 1/11/17***
Just started a competition with my friend, Dylan. Whoever gets to 15% body fat first, they get a nice dinner. I'm currently at 22% body fat but was 18%. I can do it!

Friday, December 30, 2016

2-0-1-7

It's that time again to declare my goals and think about conquering 2017. 2016 had quite a few accomplishments but that's no reason to stop reaching for the stars! I'll start with reusing most of last year's goals but add onto it.

1) Travel internationally
Since 2012, I have been able to make it out of the country at least once a year. My good friend, Nikki, has inspired me to do so and now I'm addicted. I am considering visiting my Sunshine aka Christina in Colombia, or Southern Italy or France.

Venice, Italy - October 2016
2) Hike once a month
I didn't complete this in 2016. I hiked four times and need to get back out there. I love exploring my own backyard, breathing fresh air, getting out of the house and getting fit outdoors.

Nikki & I - Tilden Park, Berkeley, California - December 2016
3) Continue with the fitness challenges
I completed quite a few fitness challenges in 2016 and plan to continue them as they help me stay focused. I am not where I want to be physically but do want to improve my flexibility and do more yoga. I have a hard time in yoga because my mind is always go-go-go and I really need to calm down and relax. I think yoga will help.

Part of Bodybuilding.com's #30DaysofFit challenge & I could fit into my XS clothes! - December 2016
4) Find a balance and adjust as necessary
Dating does blow and accidentally told my father on his birthday weekend that I am most likely not having children. As I experienced a nasty divorce as a child and have been through my own, I have no desire to bring a child into this world just to experience the same thing. I also am not sure if I ever want to get married again. BUT if the right man comes along, I am open to both. BUT I am not getting any younger. He'd have to be jaw-dropping amazing and make me so in love I can't see straight. And he can start with this...

Besides dating, I do work a lot. But I make time for what makes time for me. Like #5.

5) Family
As I write this, Lola is in ICU at John Muir in Walnut Creek after a terrible car accident. My sister is moving her family across country to North Carolina. And I haven't seen Emma all year. Things are changing and some things don't change at all. 

I promised Lola that I would take her to church at least once a month. I will be seeing my nephew in North Carolina at least once a year. And I need to see my beautiful niece.
Snapchat 'bappletree' fun with Arya & Nate - December 2016
6) Specialty
I know a few things about a lot of things. I finished the Whisk(e)y Distilled book and believe Christina V. and I will eventually take our spontaneous trip to either Nashville or Kentucky for more whiskey. I have been wanting to start a whiskey log but I am so behind. Perhaps I can in the future.

I am lacking in the BOH knowledge. I don't cook at all anymore with owning a restaurant. However, I did bake Christmas Eve goodies and enjoyed it. Probably because my family ate it and enjoyed it. Oh, those words of affirmation... I will try to cook more. I was supposed to do a couples cooking class with some guy that also wanted more BOH experience. Hmmm. Let's see if that happens.
Oban 14 Scotch Whisky with a Banana Split Pie I made thx to Pinterest - Christmas Day 2016
7) Money
I have continued reading my Charles Schwab investing publications, being motivated by Entrepreneur magazine articles and am wanting to know how to make my money work for me. My father is so incredibly smart about making his money work for him so he could retire early. That sounds like an amazing idea, right? I want to learn what he knows and how to do it. Further reading and research will continue.

I saw a meme saying that millionaires have seven streams of income. I do so I hope I am on my way. This also goes hand-in-hand with a goal I have by 40: own property in Maui. I am so happy there. That's all the reason I need. It makes me happy.
Maui - August 2016

8) Blog Improvement
It has been really fun seeing my stats increase on this blog. My dream would be to travel the world, eat and drink and be able to write about it for a living. Number 3 and 6 will help with that. Seven will definitely help too so it's not actually work.

I would like to have my first advertiser fairly soon but that means having to increase my stats across the board.

Blog stats - December 2016
9) DW Sales
This year's sales were disappointing. Events accounted for 26% of sales and I am well below my annual total goal set by KC. Reaching those numbers will hurt Number 4 but help me with Number 1 and 7.  What to do? What to do?
Dining room at DW


10) Entrepreneur Possibility
A friend would like to work with me on his new business adventure, a food concession trailer. I will have a lot to learn in regards to the operations of a mobile business and increase my network to Sacramento.




There are three more items to work on than last year. Stay tuned for updates.

What are your goals for 2017?



Thursday, December 22, 2016

Venice, Italy - Day 8

A night of feeling like garbage and blowing my nose was not the way I wanted to spend my first night in Venice. As soon as I woke up, I tried not to wake Court and went down stairs in search of drugs! But first, I stuffed my face with some prosciutto, something our other hotels didn't have. Love charcuterie.

There was a chill in the air and the city was just waking up. Restaurants were bringing out tables for service and thankfully the pharmacy ahead with the green cross was open. The lady in the white coat was speaking with her neighbor and greeted me, probably seeing my red nose and looking like death. She escorted me in and gave me a box of pills. I asked for lozenges to help coat my throat. I went back to the hotel, grabbed something to drink to take these meds as soon as possible and made a breakfast plate for Court and myself. Then I went back to bed.



I have to give it to Italy's over the counter drugs. They work! I felt so much better when I woke up that I got ready and Court and I went out to explore. We really had no plans for our last day in Venice. We were thinking about taking a gondola ride and went to the nearest stop. The cost was $65 per person for 30 minutes. I have had the experience of riding a gondola in 2012 so I left it up to Court since she has never had the pleasure. She said she would rather spend the money on food and wine. That's my girl. We were thinking about going to dinner and a show but I wasn't sure how I was going to feel later so I didn't want to commit. Instead, we walked around San Marco's Piazza and along the water until we couldn't go any further.





We walked thru a park with gravel walkways, jungle gyms and stone ping pong tables. We also passed a wide walkway that had more restaurants and stores but decided to continue on the trail along the water where we saw people reading on park benches, we passed vacant basketball courts and was forced to turn to the left where we could not cross the bridge and enter the naval academy.  We continued walking and found ourselves in a residential area that seemed deserted. People were no where to be found or heard. No voices from televisions, no dogs barking, no movement can be heard whatsoever. It was kind of eerie. We wandered left, right and found ourselves back in the park where a wide gravel road lined with houses on both sides with iron gates and brick. Very different from what we have been walking through. The road led us to what seemed to be at the end of the other wide walkway with the restaurants and stores. We were hungry.



We scanned the street and it seemed like some restaurants weren't ready. One had seating outside where a canal started and some people were already dining there. We browsed the menu quickly and settled into some chairs. I was hoping to get as much sun on me as possible as I wasn't feeling 100% and it was a bit breezy. The restaurant had one server and he seemed pretty busy so we didn't aim to make small talk, have him take our order and off he went. After awhile, I needed to use the WC aka the water closet. I saw a bathroom sign on the building with an arrow down a narrow passage way. I went up and down that trail twice and even left the whole area completely looking for a bathroom down the way. No luck.

Our food still wasn't ready by the time I gave up on relieving myself. It was getting colder and I thought about moving us inside. To our left, a realtor with her clients were on the third floor balcony showing the view and property. I wondered how much that spot went for. After trying to distract myself, I suggested we go inside. Court didn't contest. We went inside and sat us at a table in a tiny area of four tables that didn't allow much room for the server to get back and forth from the kitchen. I also realized that there was a bathroom back there. Finally!


Our food came and I had the black cuttlefish pasta. The best squid ink pasta I have had was at Seven Hills in San Francisco. I will never forget that dish or the fun time with great friends, Tim and Teresa, aka TNT. This dish was OK and that's sad for being IN Italy. I can't even remember what Court had but she wasn't raving about her food either. We paid and made our way back to hotel. Court wasn't feeling great and I was afraid she would get sick too since we're in such small quarters 24-hours a day. But before we got to the hotel to take a little nap, I got gelato. Fragola of course.


We took a nap but I woke up hungry. Court decided to sleep. That was probably best since she was around my ill self. I wandered a bit looking for a place to eat. There was a sushi restaurant, gelatarias, paninis, pizza and more. I ended up at a modern looking restaurant that has caught my eye a few times. I asked for a table for one, had a latte, a side salad and tried the cuttlefish pasta again. This time it was quite impressive! Still not as good as Seven Hills but better than the afternoon's version. It was a lot of food and had nice chunks of seafood in it. I couldn't finish it all but I did as much damage as I could.




I was surprised to see how large the restaurant was when I headed off to the also modern bathroom. It was probably the nicest one I have been to in all of Italy so far, even better than the one in our hotel. I took photos of the space as the Event Planner in me thought they were nice rooms for a dinner and I really liked the long tables and lighting.



I said 'ciao' to my servers and went back to the room where Court was still asleep. I couldn't believe that my time in one of my favorite cities in the world was over. We were headed to Milan in the morning.