When you walk through the unassuming archway for the first time you are confronted with a wave of blinding architecture. You see the conglomerate of tourists all standing in a grass field with their hands out as if to support something.
A light bulb goes off in your head and you realize that you are in front of the world renowned Piazza dei Miracoli, home to the Leaning Tower of Pisa!
It's hard not to take a perspective photo when countless others are doing so around you... it is almost a tradition to do so.
You can explore the Leaning Tower of Pisa... just make sure you put on some walking shoes. The tower boasts nearly 300 narrow steps up 7 floors. Once on top though, you can enjoy the panoramic view of the picturesque city of Pisa.
As we were swerving through the narrow roads of South Lake Tahoe in search of Angora Lake, we were fortunate enough to stumble upon Rainbow Trail. The park itself offers two trails. One that leads to a beautiful beach front and another that loops around for a mile or two.
It was nearing the end of our trip and we couldn't pass up on the opportunity to hike Rainbow Trail.
The Rainbow Trail hike and beach hike were no longer than 30 minutes each. Plenty of trees with initials engraved into them line the flat, dirt path. If you keep an eye out, you'll spot plenty of critters hiding around.
There is this easily accessible stream where you can watch hundreds of little fish swim against the current! Halfway into the hike you'll come upon this man-made "cave." I don't really know how to describe it. You basically walk down a slight decline where you can view the fish through glass (similar to aquariums).
The beach trail was a short hike that leads to a lake with slightly rocky sand. Groups of people come here to bath and spend the day in the sun.
Just look at that picture! Forget the Space Needle. This little pastry should be the symbol of Seattle! We loved this place so much that we had to come back twice.
The beef and cheese piroshky was my favorite. Eat it right after you purchase it when it's still fresh and hot. What is a piroshky in one word? Awesome. But to elaborate, it's just warm, gooey cheese with beef inside a soft, doughy pastry. Damn it... now I want one.
The original Starbucks was one of our stop on our food tour. Here, they had the original Pike Place blend that is available only at this store and is considered by many Starbucks enthusiast as the best blend. I couldn't tell the difference.
The interesting thing about this place is that even though it is considered the original Starbucks, it was technically the 2nd. The original Starbucks was located just a few blocks away under some hotel, but a fire destroyed it. The owner transferred his business license to this location making it the "original" Starbucks.
If you look at the logo, you'll notice that it is different from the Starbucks logo you're normally used to. Pretty neat.
We took a tram that dropped us off directly at the Space Needle. This architectural landmark is a symbol of Seattle itself. With a name like the Space Needle, you would imagine the futuristic tower to be extremely tall. Unfortunately, it is only 184m (604ft) tall.
We had dinner at the very top (also known as Sky City Restaurant). Get the crab mac and cheese as an appetizer... you won't regret it. The restaurant offered a great view of the city as it slowly rotates.
Unfortunately, we had a late dinner and by the time we finished, the surround area was closed down and we were not able to explore much more than that.
My girlfriend and I were able to snag a great deal on a food tour of Pike Place Market. We're big time foodies and I grew up going to farmers' markets with my parents every weekend so this was definitely up my alley.
The picture above says it all. You know you're at the right place when you see the big sign with the clock. Right below the sign is the famous Pike Place Fish Market. If you haven't already tried the fish jerky, you're missing out.
The entire place is basically a huge farmer's market with a lot of mom and pop shops. In fact, the market prides itself in the fact that there are no corporate-owned shop. Everything is local and everyone helps one another.
Definitely a must see if you're dropping Seattle. Make sure you stop at <a href="http://www.yelp.com/biz/piroshky-piroshky-seattle" target="_blank">Piroshky Piroshky</a> for their beef cheese piroshky. We had to stop by there twice!
Imagine getting a bit lost in the windy, narrow alleys of Ciutat Vella and being surrounded and towered by Gothic and grand old buildings. The area has many interesting museums like Museu Frederic Mares or Sala Pares which feature less known Catalan artists.
You can stumble upon a lovely placa or town square and stop for wine, coffee or cava, Barcelona's very own "sparkling wine." Enjoy the evening and just watch the neighborhood unwind as the sun sets in the distance.
Barcelona offers much to the wandering soul. We each have our own idea of romance, but the idea of strolling and getting lost in a new city with the right person sounds like the perfect evening to me.
These chain of islands float north-west of Norway and is covered in white sand beaches. We should check it out even though its a major tourist spot. apparently we can hike the trails around the area and kayak as well!
The area is surrounded by small villages that hug the mountains and sea. The most amazing thing about this place though is that you can catch a glimpse of the northern lights above the mountains. I can't wait to go here!!!
Panera Bread is one of our favorite locations to hold our office meeting and coding sessions. Our favorite thing about all Paneras is their music.
We often joke about the eclectic variety of "Panera Jams" which ranges from instrumentals that sound like the 8-bit music from Megaman video games to elegant symphonies that we often describe as wedding music. I've considered using this place for my wedding reception, but we'll have to see what my future wife has to say about that.
We've also started to yell "hot bread" along with the staff as fresh baguettes come out of the oven. We're not quite sure how the Panera staff feels about this, but we haven't been asked to leave just yet...
Located in the heart of Lake Tahoe, this restaurant sits on an elevated embankment just 100 feet above water offering an amazing view of the lake. The pristine water of Lake Tahoe softly reflects the sun in the evening making the view even more beautiful.
The food here is fresh and the wine list is superb. Plenty of seafood dishes available... meow. :)
The Angora Lake Hike offers a panoramic view of pristine Lake Tahoe and the wilderness that engulfs it.
Angora Lake requires a short hike, but upon arrival, travelers are greeted by a resort that offers snacks and its "world famous" lemonade.
Boat rentals are also available if the water is too cold for you to swim, but if you can take a dip in Lake Tahoe, you'll be fine in this one.
I'll update this once we actually hike it!
The calcium carbonate found in the limestone of the rocks helps give the water its intense aqua-blue color. These minerals flow into the lake and interact with the plants and vegetations to give it its cool vibrant tone.
This is one of the stops we'll be making during our backpacking trip in Europe. There is supposedly a ferry that takes you to Croatia from Italy. I'll update this once we do it.