Tag Archives | italy

Romance Ruined in Florence

A little known secret of marriage, when the pastor says the words, “till death do you part,” he doesn’t tell you this could include your life being threatened if you don’t watch your bride’s favorite movies as a newlywed. My bride is a heartless romantic. She is obsessed with the classic tales of girl meets guy, girl hates guy, guy decides he likes girl, girl then decides she likes guy. This includes “Gone With the Wind,” “Anne of Green Gables,” and “Pride and Prejudice.” I spent the first year of our marriage being forced to watch all of these films or face a lonely night. This included Luci’s most coveted chick flick, “A Room with A View.” I loathe a “Room with A View” as I had to relive every annoying detail of this movie on our first trip to Florence, Italy.

The grand dome in the distance. Florence lives up to its reputation.

The grand dome in the distance. Florence lives up to its reputation.

For those of you that have not had the privilege of watching the show 256 times, a brief synopsis is in order. Set in Edwardian era of romance and properness, the heroine Lucy Honeychurch (Helena Bonham Carter) and her chaperone Charlotte Bartlett (Maggie Smith) travel from dreary England to sun-kissed Tuscany.

During their stay in Florence, Lucy meets a quirky, yet ruggedly handsome young man named George Emerson. George pursues Lucy and passionately kisses her in the Tuscan countryside. Yada, Yada, Yada Lucy gets yanked away from George and goes back to England. She then gets engaged to boring Cecil (Daniel Day-Lewis) until George’s Dad rents a nearby flat and George kisses Lucy again. Yada, Yada, Yada. Lucy breaks up with Cecil. The movie ends with George making out with Lucy overlooking the Duomo with their “Room with a View” in Florence and groping her. This is the only part of the movie, I like.


So how did all this ruin our trip to Tuscany?

Well, it started on where to stay. Of course we had to find a hotel with a sweeping vista of the Arno.   We needed the bay window that opened up to the city. We needed to schedule a nearby clock tower to ring at the exact moment that we kissed and arrange for some white doves to be released below. We did some research on this website for hotels in Florence.  Quickly, we realized that our caviar dreams would not be realized on our peanut butter budget. We settled for a B and B within walking distance of the Arno. Our room had windows…they just didn’t open.

Once we checked into our abode, it was off to see the city and systematically retrace every movement of George and Lucy. While I talked my Luci out of reenacting all the scenes, we did see some of Florence’s best sights.

Take it to the Top

Forget a room with a view of the Arno, do not miss the view from the top of the Cupola del Brunelleschi. Our first stop in our grand Florence adventure was one of the most recognizable sights in all of Florence: the Duomo. Its iconic red roof rises 142 feet from the ground. The dome is an engineering marvel. It is larger than the domes of the US Capitol, St. Paul’s in London, and even St. Peters in Rome! Impressive! There is only one-way to the top: the stairs.

A view from the Cupola del Brunelleschi. Worth the hike to the top.

A view from the Cupola del Brunelleschi. Worth the hike to the top.

The journey is not for the faint of heart. The stairs are steep, cramped and crowded.   Is the climb worth it? YES! The view of the city from the lofty perch is not to be missed.   The view on the inside is equally as impressive. Giorgio Vasari treats you to an up-close view of a fresco and Federico Zucchari called “the Last Judgment.” Both heaven and hell are presented in very graphic displays. I was just glad that my “Luci” didn’t push me over the balcony and trade me in for her own “George.”

The Bridges

Another of Florence’s icons are her many bridges over the Arno River. Perhaps the most famous is the Ponte Vecchio. The pedestrian-only bridge is actually the home of historic gold and jewelry traders.   We spent some time trying to find something that we liked and could afford. We were ultimately unsuccessful. Prices are much higher than the quality of the craftsmanship.

The less than impressive Ponte Vecchio.

The less than impressive Ponte Vecchio.

The bridge also has a secret. It secret elevated walkway served as a passageway between the Medici palaces on each side of the Arno River. It allowed the rich and powerful the ability to cross the creek without coming in contact with the unwashed masses.   The Ponte Vecchio is the only Florence bridge that survived World War II intact.

Go See “the Junk”

Forget Cecil or even George…tourists flock to see one of the most famous “pair” in the entire world: David’s! The statue of David is housed in the Accademia Gallery.   While visiting the Accademia is a must, our favorite museum in Florence is the Uffizi Gallery. The Uffizi is housed in an old Medici palace along the Arno.   The family was a great patron of the arts and their collection rivals only the Louvre in Paris. A full day tour of the exhibits is barely during the place justice. All the greats hang on the walls here: Duccio, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Botticelli, Caravaggio, Raphael and they even have a few Rembrandts. The museum actually has two museum stores, one as you go in and you guessed it, one as you go out. Both have great guides and art books about the collections.

Take you postcard picture at the Piazzale Michelangelo.

Take you postcard picture at the Piazzale Michelangelo.

The Postcard Place

There is one place not to be missed for taking the quintessential Florence Photo: Piazzale Michelangelo. The views of the Florentine skyline from the park cannot be beat.   You can get great photos of: Santa Croce, the Duomo, and the many bridges on the Arno. A word of warning: you are not going to be alone. Throngs of “Lucy Honeychurch” worshipers converge on the Piazza at dusk. For good reason, sunsets from the very top of the park are simply priceless. The light on the red rooftops of the city creates a soft focus postcard worthy picture.

Florence US Cemetary

Florence US Cemetary

Florence American Cemetery

One of our favorite Florence sights isn’t in the city. The Florence American Cemetery is located a few miles south of the city, and is one of the most beautiful cemeteries and tributes we have visited in our travels. There are more than 4,400 service members interred in the 70 acres. Most of those buried gave their lives after capturing Rome during World War II. The day we visited, there was a light fog that made the entire setting hauntingly beautiful.   The fields are filled with lines and lines of white crosses and stars. The grounds keepers were very helpful in sharing the history of the cemetery.

The Finale

If you follow the Fighting Couple, you know our second favorite thing to do in Italy is to eat gelato! Florence has a number of fine establishments that offer this delectable treat. We usually have one shop that we highly recommend, but candidly we ate at a handful of different locations and didn’t have a bad batch. Go figure. Around the bell tower there are a number of really good offering.   Send us a picture!

Romance in Florence

With tempered expectations, Florence is and will continue to be one of the most romantic cities on the globe. Watch the movie, but make your own story in this city for lovers.

Best places to Kiss in Venice

Thy sun-illumined spires, thy crown and crest!
White phantom city, whose untrodden streets
Are rivers, and whose pavements are the shifting
Shadows of palaces and strips of sky;

–Henry Wadsworth Longfellow “Venice”

For traveling couples, visiting Venice, Italy is a dream come true.   There are few places that rival the magic that Venice works on lovers.  You have your tickets purchased.  Now what?  How can you make your visit to the City of Bridges match your romantic expectations?  The Fighting Couple is ready and here to help.  The following our some of our best couple travel ideas for your Venice adventure.

Gondola Driver in Venice

Gondola Driver in Venice

Venice Gondola ride

Ok…lets get the easy one out of the way.  As you likely know, the Fighting Couple hates spending money on really touristy type things.  Couple travel is expensive!  Taking a gondola ride in Venice is just that.   With that said…shell out the Euros and take your sweetie on a ride.  (The official cost for a 40-minute gondola ride is €80 and €100 after 7pm).   It’s just money.  Isn’t your lover worth it?  You don’t need a reservation.  Just show up, agree on price and time you want, and bon voyage!

La Fenice Opera House, Venice, Italy

La Fenice Opera House, Venice, Italy

La Fenice during Intermission

Located in the heart of Venice is the wonderful Fenice Opera House.  The Fenice or Phoenix is appropriately named, it has been built and burnt down twice.  Today’s version is a result of a 90 million euro renovation.  It is stunning.  Enjoy the first two acts of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly.  Take your lover by the hand, look into each other’s eyes and capture a kiss.  (Don’t wait till the opera ends….it doesn’t end well.  Sorry to ruin it.)  Tickets and info: www.teatrolafenice.it/site/index.php

Slow Dance on St. Mark’s Square at sunset

This one is our fave!  The square is lined by restaurants that waft their culinary delights into the salty air.  The lights dim.  The notes of a lonely accordion linger in the distance.  The perfect recipe for love!

If you need some advice on how to kiss…please read our instructions:  How to Kiss Correctly.

Find a lonely alley in the Dorsoduro district-

Next to the Grand Canal is a wonderful section of Venice, the Dorsoduro district.  There are a number of meandering alleys with wonderful shops and coffee stands.  Spend a warm afternoon going from shop to shop.  Take your camera as there are some wonderful mansions and Palazzos to take in.  This area of Venice is often called the “real” Venice.  It is home to the Galleria Dell’ Academia and the Peggy Guggenheim Museum.  Both of these sites are must sees for anyone venturing to Venice.

Stroll across the Rialto Bridge

Find your own Casanova and then follow the original Casanova’s footsteps across the Rialto Bridge.  The Bridge is one of the most recognizable icons of the water city.  Climb to the apex and watch the boats below.   It can be a bit crowded at times, it is best to get your pictures early.

St. Mark's Bell tower

St. Mark’s Bell tower

St Mark’s Campanile Bell Tower

One of the best ways to take in the grand city is atop the bell tower of St. Marks.  Perched  99 metres above the square, you can look over the red roofs of the entire city.  Pull you lover close as the cool ocean breezes tussle your hair.  The views offered from the top are truly breathtaking.  Taking the stairs will help you burn off some of that wonderful Italian gelato.  For more info on St. Marks.

Italian Food

A yummy creation at Harry’s. Venice, Italy

Harry’s Dolci

Are you looking for a romantic restaurant away from the hustle and bustle?  We have the perfect place for you and you sweet heart.  Take the water bus across the bay to the Hilton.  Turn left after walking off the boat and head to Harry’s Dolci.  This is a Fighting Couple’s fave haunt.  The last time we were in Venice we went there twice for dinner!  What to order you ask?  If it’s on the menu, it is going to be good.  Don’t miss their bruschetta.  YUM!  Of course eating is the second best thing you can do with your lips at Harry’s.  It’s Amore!

Ok, now go and book your tickets to Venice.  Pack your Brics Luggage, don’t forget to include a warm sweater.  Then follow our simple recipe for making the perfect romantic visit to Venice!  Send us your pictures!

Did we miss your favorite place in Venice?  Sorry.  Shoot us a quick comment below.  Enjoy Venice!





Venice for Couples

1000Fights had a fight about Venice (big surprise). The fight wasn’t while we were there, but if we should go there. Mike said, yes. Luci said, no. Mike won. Luci is glad he did. Venice is one of those locations you can’t miss. It’s on the bucket list. It’s like the Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China. Once a world super power, now one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, Venice is a perfect place for couples to get lost in its history, ambiance, food, and extravagance. To ensure your trip is fight free and memorable, follow the following 10 tips.

venice church

Venice at dusk.

1. Accept Venice for what it is. Venice is trapped in the past. There is no industry there. Some of Europe’s great cities couple history and the present for a modern-day experience. Venice does not. Venice is historical Disneyland. More than 20 million people visit Venice; only 250,000 people actually live there. It’s a tourist trap. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t splendid and worth the visit. Just know when you go that 90 percent of the people you see are just like you, tourists.

2. Stay away from the Grand Canal. The Grand Canal is well, Grand. You’ll see a parade of historical sites, but it’s not the best location to stay. It’s crowded and overpriced. We suggest staying on Isola Della Guidecca. It’s Venice’s southern district and home to several independent B&B’s and the massive Hilton Molino Stucky.  By staying on Isola Della Guidecca, you’ll get away from the majority of tourists and wake up overlooking Venice. It’s easy to get there. Take the vaporetto (water bus).

3. Get lost and buy a pop-up map. Remember, Venice is an island. You can walk and walk and you won’t fall off the edge of the earth. Take it in and just walk around. By walking around, we found places we didn’t read about in any travel book or website. See #10. From personal experience, it was hard to find our bearings in Venice. Take our advice, find a good map. It was a life saver. You might be tempted to use your smart phone. Buy the map before you go. On Amazon, it’s only $6.95 and the size of a 3 X 5 card. It also has the vaporetto route. By buying the map, you don’t have to worry about finding Wi-Fi on your phone. Just stuff the map in your back pocket. No fuss and no fight!

Venice Italy

A view from one of the many bridges.

4. Kiss at St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco.) Supposedly Napoleon called it the “drawing room of Europe.”  The piazza hosts St. Marks Bacillia, the famous Clock Tower, and pigeons of course. But that’s not all; you’ll hear live music in the form of string quartets and grand pianos, and opera singers, serenading the guests of the restaurants that line the square. This is when you know Venice is for lovers!

5. Watch your pocketbook at Murano. It’s easy to go trinket and souvenir shopping in Venice. Glass! Jewelry! Masks! Gondolier shirts! Handbags! There is no shortage of stores wanting your money and that’s appropriate considering Venice’s merchant history. But mind your pennies. One of the easiest ways for your romantic time to crash and burn is fighting over souvenirs. We know; we’ve fought over them a lot. So, decide before you ever set first on the island, develop a budget. Decide how much each of you gets to spend on souvenirs. 1000Fights spent the day in Murano to spend our cash. Murano is a short boat ride away from Venice and it’s where the majority of the glass is made. Buy your glass directly from the factory to avoid buying overpriced Chinese glass.  While we are on the topic to price…don’t overpay for a trip to Venice.

bosnia croatia 2011 three 097

Hot gondolier. Yes, please.

6. Swoon over hot gondoliers, but don’t waste your money by riding in a gondola.  1000Fights has an eye for beauty and that includes in the form of hot gondoliers. They are everywhere in Venice. You’d think riding in a gondola would be the ultimate romantic experience. It’s really not. It’s crowded on the canals and riding in a gondola is expensive. Expect to pay at least 75 Euros for a gondola ride. For a better romantic experience, spend your money on going to the opera at the Fenice or a candle light dinner.

7. Be prepared to be seasick. The streets are flooded in Venice. LOL. Seriously, there is only one way to get around the city: by boat. There is a comprehensive waterbus system called vaporetto. But the bus stops float. And rock. And sway. If you get seasick, like the female half of 1000Fights, know that you could get sick riding the vaporetto as well as waiting for them. Take precautions and have sympathy for your queasy stomached spouse. Nothing says I love you more than puking on vacation.

8. Read the book, and then Visit the Fenice. 1000Fights picked up the book, “The City of Falling Angels” by John Berendt on clearance long before they decided to go to Venice. The book details the devastating fire of Venice’s opera house, the Fenice, and its subsequent rebirth. You’ll get a taste of the people of Venice and its historic landmark. The book is fascinating and it makes a visit to the beautiful Fenice even more meaningful.

Inlaid Marble

The Santa Maria Assunta Church

9. Eat bruschetta and drink wine. The food in Venice is fantastic, if you avoid the typical tourist restaurants. We found a restaurant in Venice on Isola Della Guidecca that we went to twice it was that good! Trattoria al Cacciatori overlooks the canal and the service is terrific. The bruschetta was the best we’d ever eaten. We’d go back to Venice just for the bruschetta. No trip to Italy would be complete without Italian wine. Drink up.

10. Find This Church. When 1000Fights was getting lost, we stumbled upon a church we never read about in any travel book. The Santa Maria Assunta Church or known as Gesuiti I is almost 300 years old. Its outside is ostentatious baroque with statutes, columns, and a gigantic door that would fit the Giant from Jack and the Beanstalk. The inside is washed in black and white inlaid marble that is breathtaking. Even the balcony’s draperies are actually marble cut to look like curtains. Do not miss this historic and over the top ornate church. 

Venice is the perfect place for a honeymoon or for pretending that you are on one!  Take in all the food, the sights, and of course the wonderful experience that is Venice.

Bon Voyage!

bosnia croatia 2011 three 025

1000Fights says don’t fight about Venice. Go and enjoy Historical Disneyland!

How to buy Murano Glass in Venice

Few souvenirs can match the beauty, craftsmanship, uniqueness of Murano glass from Italy.  It is truly the finest glassworks that money can buy.

How to get from Venice to Murano by vaporetto.

Many a tourist wanders from Venice to purchase a treasure.  We have put together a few tried and true tips for getting the most for your money on Murano.

murano glass1)Take emotion out of the equation, then put it back in at the end.

Huh?  Yep, we said it.  Take the emotion out of the equation.  It is critical to be realistic with what your budget can afford.  Before you take one step off the ferry, decide what your budget will be.  Seek agreement with your significant other on what the parameters will be.  This place is not for the faint of heart, or worse yet for a weak wallet.  Take the emotion out the purchase.  Once you have agreed on a limit.  Double it.  This is Murano!

Be realistic with what you can carry back home.  Glass doesn’t pack well.  It is heavy.  It is fragile.   Shipping delicate glassworks is also a bit of a risk.  Who is going to be responsible should it break in route?  Most turistas are going to carry their purchase with them the rest of the trip to avoid theft, or breakage.  This is a huge commitment if you are just beginning your holiday.

2)Keep Walking

One constant that we have found in shopping during our travels is there is always, always a better deal, just a few feet further.  I don’t know how many times we have “thought” that we received a steal of a deal, then walked a few more feet and found it for half of the price.   (Enter fighting couple fight #445).  The rule applies to Murano.  Candidly, we found the further we walked deeper into the island, the better deals and quality.

3) Ask Questions

One of the first questions to ask, was this made in Murano?  It’s a fair question.  The answer might surprise you.  Assuming you have a vendor with integrity, the answer could be no.  Which is fine, don’t get us wrong.  You just need to go into the purchase with your eyes open wider than your pocketbook.  Ask how it was made.  Ask about the colors, what were they made of?  Ask about the artist.  Questions will not only protect you from being shammed, but will also lend intrigue to your purchase.  Of course the key question is to ask for a certificate of authenticity, validating what the handsome salesman has explained to you.

One of the best questions we asked our salesman was, “what else do you have?”  A warm Italian grin formed and we were led back to the workshop and back sales room.  This is where the good stuff is kept.

Italian glass4) Let the Games Begin.

Remember you are in Italy.  This is not Wal mart.  You are not bound by what the price tag might say.  Granted in Murano, small glass items like jewelry, trinkets and coasters will likely be a fixed price.  Once you beginning bidding on larger pieces, price becomes secondary.

One key to good negotiation is finding a flaw in the piece that you want.  Pointing out a flaw in the glass will be easy due to the nature of glass blowing.  Your salesman will be offended at first at you boldness to point out a flaw in his “masterpiece”.  Simply smile and refer to the vendor down the boardwalk that had one similar with out the flaw.  Prices will suddenly become more fluid.

5) Timing is Everything

One of the most difficult things about buying anything in Murano is the time factor.  Time is not on your side.  You hit the island with a gaggle of other turistas.  You have the ferry schedule in one hand and a melting gelato in the other.  You are always pressed for time.  Thoughts that “I will never, ever find this again.  I must buy.”  WRONG!  You will.  And it will have more (insert fave color) in it.  And it will be 100 euros cheaper.  Don’t fall into the time trap.  Key to effective glass buying and negation is the ability to turn on your heels and walk out on your dream purchase.   This is painful.  It must be done.

We hope that like us, you fall in love with Venice and with Murano.  Stay in a wonderful bed and breakfast nearby.  Make multiple trips over to Murano.  Spend those Eurodollars!

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Couple Travel


Traveling as a couple is rough!  We have been a couple for over 15 years, and traveled to 25 plus countries on 5 continents. One thing that we have learned traveling over this time is that traveling together can be the best and worst.  We thought that we would offer you some handy tips on how to travel together.

Traveling with a man-

“Being a woman is a terribly difficult task, since it consists principally in dealing with men.”  -Joseph Conrad

Traveling with a man is truly a test of patience and will power.  We want to arm you with some tactics that will make your next holiday much more enjoyable.  So let’s start with the basics: Hunger.

1 Hunger-One of the intriguing features of male physiology is the constant need for…..food.  In the bible of understanding all men aka: The Godfather note when big decisions need to be made…food is included ie  “Leave the gun bring the cannoli.”  A little known fact is that 61 scenes involve food.  Why?  Men need Man Fuel.  It makes everything go much better.  Those little mini-meals they serve on long haul flights?  Not gonna cut it.  Ladies in order to combat this challenge plan your meals.  Make time for food!  A little planning goes a long way.

2 Directions-Just like the pitiful scene of Napoleon at Waterloo or Lee at Appomattox, asking a man to hand over his sword and ask for directions is just as humiliating.  Admitting defeat, even in the face of insurmountable odds, is next to impossible!  Instead, might we suggest that if possible you approach by using rule number one.  “Hey I am starving…is there anyway we could stop by this store/café and grab a quick bite?” (see rule #1)  At the same time… this will give you a chance to inconspicuously ask for some pointers on where the heck you are.  The invention of GPS has quite possibly single handedly saved our marriage.  It is now a travel must.

Traveling Couple Love


Traveling with a Woman

“The great question that has never been answered and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is ‘What does a woman want?”   -Sigmund Freud

It’s all about the journey, not the destination.  Men, for whatever reason have a “let’s get there attitude” when traveling and doing other things. As women, we tend to focus a little more on the path.  Men: build in a little extra time into your schedules.  Be flexible. Here’s an example from our recent trip to Venice which turned into another 1000 fights. We were driving from Triste, Italy to Venice.  We were looking through tourist books and spotted an amazing castle cradling the bay outside of Triste.  It wasn’t in our plan.  Mike had an Excel spreadsheet that kept a strict schedule with everything we were to see that day and the castle wasn’t on the list. He didn’t even know about the castle. Of course Mike was like, “Gotta get on the road, got to see Venice, got to obey the spreadsheet.” After a fight that resulted in zero pictures of Mike and I together at the castle (in fact, Mike wouldn’t even take pictures of me-our friends were the photographers), we went to the castle.  We ended up seeing one of the most incredible sites of our entire trip.  Mike admitted he was wrong three weeks after the trip, and I have a few pictures of a fairy tale castle in Italy. Guys take the hint.  Be flexible.  Slow down a little and enjoy the ride!

A little more talk and a little less action

Couple travelTalk.  Women need to talk.  We need to communicate.  We need to discuss.  Guys: a couple of different options for you.  Some of you are talkers as well, so no problem.  Some of you are good listeners, no problem.  If you are neither or your name is Mike, a few ideas for you.  Let your spouse known that you need some time to talk. You finally have some time together, and for women it’s all about communication. If you don’t know what to talk about, we suggest “The Book of If: Questions for the Games of Life and Love” by Evelyn McFarlane and James Saywell.  On a four hour drive through Croatia, we found out a lot about each other. Like, “If you could fire someone from work, who would it be,” or “If you could relive one romantic date from high school just as it was, which would it be.”  Some answers we had to plead the “fifth.” But overall, it’s a great way to get a conversation going.

Of course one of the most important part of a successful trip as a couple is the place.  Why not try one of the Club Med all inclusive resorts?  Sun, sand, and your sweetie what more do you need?

There they are, a few ideas to help you travel as a couple.  So get out there and explore the world together!

The Man’s Guide to Traveling with a Woman


5 Things Every Man Should Know About Women…While Traveling.

How do you travel with a Woman?  Not long ago we did a post relating little know secrets about how to travel with men.  We have now turned the tables and offer you hommes a few insights on how to travel with the fairer sex.  While every person has their own travel style, and we certainly don’t want to paint every woman into a box, there are a few helpful general tips, that if understood, can help couples find greater harmony on the road.  So here we go:

Keys to traveling with a Woman

Miramare Castle, Triste, Italy

It’s all about the journey, not the destination.

Men, for whatever reason have a “let’s get there attitude” when traveling and doing other things. As women, we tend to focus a little more on the path.  Men: build in a little extra time into your schedules.  Be flexible. Here’s an example from our recent trip to Venice which turned into another 1000 fights. We were driving from Triste, Italy to Venice.  We were looking through tourist books and spotted an amazing castle cradling the bay outside of Triste.  It wasn’t in our plan.  Mike had an Excel spreadsheet that kept a strict schedule with everything we were to see that day and the castle wasn’t on the list. He didn’t even know about the castle. Of course Mike was like, “Gotta get on the road, got to see Venice, got to obey the spreadsheet.” After a fight that resulted in zero pictures of Mike and I together at the castle (in fact, Mike wouldn’t even take pictures of me-our friends were the photographers), we went to the castle.  We ended up seeing one of the most incredible sites of our entire trip.  Mike admitted he was wrong three weeks after the trip, and I have a few pictures of a fairy tale castle in Italy. Guys take the hint.  Be flexible.  Slow down a little and enjoy the ride!


Cleanliness is next to Godess-ness

I don’t know how many times I have said…for men…the world is your urinal.  Traveling, as we have in third world countries, the facilities are not always ideal.  No problem.  But there is a clear and bright line between rustic and disgusting.  Third world or first world, some truck stops are dens of disgusting.  Men take this little hint, when the facilities are sub par,  DON’T ARGUE.   Try saying things like…”Let’s find another place” or “There is a hotel just down the road, lets go over there.” My hero!   One option we highly recommend is skipping the hotel and renting a vacation apartment instead.”


man-taking-photoPictures are the best souvenir

Its all about the social media and the Christmas card.  Deep down, women are vain.  We really are.  Men could care less how their outfit looks or if their makeup is smudged.  OK maybe most men don’t care about their make up.  For us frau-lines, we truly want our vacation pics to look really good.  Why do we take vacation pics?  To show them off to all our friends on Facebook!   Our photo shoots might take a little long.  Guys, take it from me, you want us to look hot for these pics, it will make all of your old girl friends # jealous!


The whole flowers thing

This is likely the hardest concept for men to understand.  Women like cute things.  Cute things can come in the shape of purring cats, daffodils, teacups and cutie-bug kids.  We are going to take pictures of them, we are going to cuddle them, we may put an entire tour on hold to take pictures of a bunny.  I can’t tell you how many pictures we have of the dafodills in front of Jane Austen’s house!  They were incredible!  Guys, this is really going to test your patience.  Take a deep breath.  Count to 10.  Trust me, if you make a big deal about this, you will be removed from our “cute” list.  This will not bode well for you later.  Girls can I have an “amen?!”


Dinner in Venice ItalyA little more talk and a little less action

Women need to talk.  We need to communicate.  We need to discuss.  Guys: a couple of different options for you.  Some of you are talkers as well, so no problem.  Some of you are good listeners, no problem.  If you are neither or your name is Mike, a few ideas for you.  Let your spouse known that you need some time to talk. You finally have some time together, and for women it’s all about communication. If you don’t know what to talk about, we suggest “The Book of If: Questions for the Games of Life and Love” by Evelyn McFarlane and James Saywell.  On a four hour drive through Croatia, we found out a lot about each other. Like, “If you could fire someone from work, who would it be,” or “If you could relive one romantic date from high school just as it was, which would it be.”  Some answers we had to plead the “fifth.” But overall, it’s a great way to get a conversation going.

If communicating together isn’t your thing, join friends you meet on the tourist trail for drinks before/after/during dinner. Meeting fellow travelers is one of the most dynamic experiences that can create lifelong friendships and maybe a few Facebook friend requests!

Gentlemen, these are a few little hints for keeping us gals happy whilst on the road.  Every women is different, but take these ideas into consideration and know your travel partner.

Gals, did we miss anything?  If you could tell you guy just one thing that would make life a little easier out there, what would you tell him?

Our list of the 5 “Most Intriguing” Churches in Europe

Like most explorers of Europe, we always end up marching into a million different cathedrals and churches.  Unfortunately for us, call us unwashed heathens, they start to all blend together.  Every once in a while you enter a house of worship that is different in some dramatic way.  Something within sparks our interest.    We decided to offer you some of our favorites.  Favorites in a sense that their beauty, uniqueness and history make them worth the visit.  Enjoy our countdown to the most intriguing church in Europe:

Salisbury Cathedral

5) Salisbury Cathedral, (Salisbury, England)  

Located about an hour and a half from London, the Salisbury Cathedral offers an interesting day trip.  Its well worth the jaunt.  The church landed on on list for a whole list of reasons.  Lets start with its sheer size.  The Cathedral has the tallest spire of all the churches in England.  The spire towers at 404 feet.  You can take a tower tour that will take you up to an amazing vista.  The entire church covers a foot print of over 80 acres!  It is massive.  The church has a number of claims to fame, it has the world’s oldest working clock circa 1386.   It houses one of the four original Magna Cartas.  Take a side trip out of Londontown and see one of the most intriguing churches in Europe.

4)  The Church of Santa Maria Assunta  (Venice, Italy)

We happened upon this church by accident.  We were lost in Venice.  (We love getting lost in Venice! Highly recommended.)  To take a break we entered the church, and found one of the most exquisite displays of stonework we have ever laid eyes on.  The pillars of the church are made of inlaid marble unlike we have ever seen.  The delicacy and precision that must have been requisite to make such a masterpiece is mind blowing.  The craftsmen that created this structure, with limited tools was masters in the highest degree.  Every inch of this house of worship is a masterpiece.  Don’t miss this one next time you get “lost” in Venice.

IL Duomo Siena, Italy

3) IL Duomo (Siena, Italy)

Nestled in the hills of Tuscany is the sleepy little town of Siena.  What once was a hilltop fortress housing the township, has now turned into a haven for smart tourists that break away from their gelato in Florence.  Getting to the town is half the adventure, rent a car, make the journey.  What is remarkable about this church is the colors inside and out.  We nicknamed it the zebra church.  Builders used alternating black and white marble.  The inside of the church is equally as dramatic as the outside.  Once you enter, you are struck with sensory overload.  On the floor is the mosaic depicting the “Slaughter of the Innocents.” Then direct your eyes above and take in the painted dome that creates an optical illusion of three dimensional heavens.  It is remarkable.  Don’t miss Bernini’s St. Jerome holding the cross like a cradled violin. I remember after we had walked out, saying to each other, that was amazing.  It was.  Go see it.

The Floor of IL Duomo, Siena, Italy


Español: Fresco en la Capilla Sixtina.

Image via Wikipedia

2)  Sistine Chapel (Vatican City)

Making a list like this, how can we not include the Vatican?  What makes the Sistine Chapel intriguing is its creator, we couldn’t help asking ourselves…How did he do it?  The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is one of the most amazing “canvases”.  What a remarkable example of human creativity.  —Warning: we are going to vent a little:  We were really disappointed in the patrons of the chapel.  In order to preserve the delicate works of art, photo’s are prohibited.  During the entire time we were viewing the art, we heard the guards incessantly chide tourists: “NO PHOTOS!”  It truly ruins the setting.  Shame on the tourists for not buying the post card, and shame on the guards for not finding another way to stop the villains.—-Back to the review.  See the Sistine Chapel once in your life.  Walk slowly.  Imagine the painstaking efforts of the artists.  Commune with a higher power.  Then go get a massage, your neck will thank you for it.

1) Our fave church in Europe is one you likely have never heard of.  It is not a masterpiece of architectural genius.  Millions of pilgrims do not make an annual trek to touch its walls.  It is one of the oldest and best preserved shrines to Christendom.   In its storied history, it served as a defense against invading forces and later serviced as a Muslim Mosque.  Chora Church in Istanbul, Turkey is our most intriguing church in Europe.

Chora Church, Istanbul, Turkey

Chora is a powerful place.  What makes Chora so special is its mosaic pageantry.  The walls of the church once plastered over to cover it’s “blasphemous” subject according to Islamic tradition, the church has been converted to a museum and the coverings have all been painstakingly removed.  What was left behind is nothing short of breathtaking.  Depictions of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the birth of the virgin Mary, and the Journey of the Magi.

Byzantine paintings in the parecclesion of the...

Chora Church, Istanbul, Turkey

Far and away our favorite depiction is of the second coming of Christ.  It is one of the most compelling pieces of artwork we have come across.  Christ the redeemer is grasping the hands of both Adam and Eve pulling them from their earthly graves.  Satan is bound with cords and chains in the distance.  Keys litter the ground, symbolic of the keys to the grave.  What draws us in on this picture are the faces of both Adam and Eve.  They have a look of joy and wonder.  You simply must see it in person.

Turkey is an extraordinary place to visit.  It continues to be one of the Fighting Couple’s favorite.

So how did we do?   Agree?  Disagree?  Did we miss you fave church in Europe?  We would love to hear from you.  Just hit the comment button below and let us know.

Please visit our Facebook Page for more pics.  If you find a intriguing church that should make the list, let us know in the comments below.

The Seven Secrets of Rome

Check out our latest post for the City Blogging Tour:  The Seven Secrets of Rome!  We were even awarded the Jury prize for our post!!  Please check it out and while there could you hit the vote button for us?

An excerpt from our post:

The Secret Keyhole

For our first secret of Rome, head to the Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta, wander around to the back side of the square, there you will find the church of Santa Maria Del Priorato. Find the door leading into the church. Peer through the small bronze keyhole in the gate. Spoiler alert! As you gaze through the small hole you will see perfectly framed by trees and scrubs, the Basilica of St. Peter. It is truly a sight to behold. It is difficult to fully describe just how beautiful and unexpected this view is. We highly recommend!




How Cinque Terra Saved Our Relationship

One of our fave locations is one of the gems of the Mediterranean: Italy’s Cinque Terre. Clinging to the rugged coast lies 5 cities: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. Each unique village has its own flavor. During our recent trip, we really gained interesting perspectives on travel and relationships. We’ll share a few with you. Please make sure your belts are low and tight and the tray tables are up…

Its harder than it looks

Our trip began fairly uneventful. When we say uneventful, that means we fought like cats and dogs, got lost, and saw some amazing Italian countryside. We drove from Nice, France, through Genoa, Italy to a meek town called Levanto. Levanto is a great place to base your explorations of the coast. We arrived late, in the dark, and luckily found our little bed and breakfast. The next morning we headed out armed with our Rick Steves book, 15 liters of water (see fight #45), and a passion to see some amazing sites. We were not disappointed.

After watching hours of tour programs in preparation for our trip, we “intended” to saunter to each of the villages along the trail that connects all five of the cities. We made it to two. It was tough! We opted to take the easier method of getting to our next destination: the ferry. Relationships are so similar. We all expect things to go smoothly. That’s what we see on TV. Right? Committed relationships take work. Expect the paths to be bumpy. Expect things to not go according to a fairy tale playbook. Roll with it. (or push them over the cliff and collect the insurance money.)

Hold Hands

The trail that connects the cities is rugged. There a ton of ups and downs. Ocean mist blows up and the path can get a bit treacherous. We had to rely on each other at times to make a safe passage. It’s the same with our relationships. When one person is on the emotional high ground, we need to lend a helping hand to our sweetheart. We need to be fiercely loyal to each other in the face of rough patches. Sometimes a lifting hand or word means more than we know.

Make Your Own Map

Needless to say, a location as popular and as scenic as Cinque Terre, there was a ton of people. Restaurants were crowded, the tourist shops were a plenty. At one point, we had enough. We struck out to get lost in one of the towns. We did. It became one of the highlights of our visit. We wandered in the narrow allies climbing up, up, up. Sometimes we need to leave the well-intended advice of all our family and friends behind and set out on our own. Be yourself. Make your own map.

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Enjoy the Vistas

Words cannot describe how beautiful the sea is along Cinque Terre. It is breathtaking. The sea breaks against the cliffside of each of the cities. Each city’s zoning requirements must be pretty strict! The colors of the homes create a collage of cool. At one point during our journey, we sat at an eatery perched over the ocean and gorged ourselves on fish. During the lunch, I put down my spoon and just took it all in: beautiful surroundings, sitting next to a gorgeous woman, eating incredible food. The dolce vita! Take those moments, cherish them. You will remember them for the rest of your life. I will.

This is not Germany

At the end of the day, we made it to the last city. Hooray! We elected to take a train back to our car. Italy has given the world much: Italian sodas, spaghetti, square toed men’s shoes, the world’s best fashion designers, and a bunch of other stuff. One of the country’s few weaknesses is punctuality of its trains. They are not what you would call “on time” or “on any kind of schedule”. So, on the platform we sat. And sat. And sat. Being late in the day, we were not exactly … talking to each other. The lesson learned here is patience. The train will come in its own time. In relationships, we want things to improve right now. Each of us is human. Regardless of how we try to change the other person, change takes time. Follow the sage advice of the wise Italian-ish philosopher, Axlito Rosetta of Guns N Roses: Be patient.

So that’s our trip in a nutshell. We truly hope that you found something that was meaningful. We highly recommend Cinque Terre. The water, the rugged coastline and the scrumptious food are not to be missed. Happy fighting & traveling!