rome: where i stayed + what i ate.

I adore a nice hotel. But, because my trip to Rome was impromptu...I assumed all the cute, moderately priced hotels would be snatched up. My penchant for boutique hotels was laid aside, along with any fancy illusions about what my $140/night budget could buy in the Eternal City.

I was wrong. After a few hours of online digging...I found the Holy Hotel Grail: Casa Montani.

As the taxi pulled up to the building just outside the Piazza del Popolo and I rode up the charming, teeny gated elevator to the 4th floor property, I kept suppressing my hopes...thinking there must be something wrong with this adorable 5 guestroom hotel. Afterall, the price was just too cheap.

Wrong again. My room was the perfect size...and everything was simply beyond expectation. From the most gorgeous carved headboard, the sweet street view, the coziest bed I've experienced in years,  and luxurious rainforest shower head. It was right up there with the 5 star hotels I've stayed at in the US + Europe.

Each morning began with a rolling, silver breakfast tray delivered to my door...stocked with fresh fruit, croissants + nutella and fresh, steaming coffee. Yeah. I miss that part.

I also miss waking up and leaning out my window to take in this sweet street view.

So, the hotel was my first love in Rome. But throughout the week, I found three other loves.

Their names are Bruschetta, Wine and Gelato.

Bruschetta: Both Gabe and I agree that produce just isn't the same in Kuwait...we made the mistake of buying a Kuwaiti tomato and, well, it was rough and ruined tomatoes for the past few months. But, Italy really redeemed the tomato for me, and I ate bruschetta an average of twice a day. There is nothing, nothing in the world quite like the bruschetta I ate while sitting in street cafes. Add a little olive oil, a splash of balsamic vinegar and just watch the world go by.

Dang it, now I'm jonesing for bruschetta. On to my next love.

Wine: All alcohol is illegal in Kuwait (buuzzzkillll), but I regained my Booze Legs over the course of a few days in Italy. Drinking wine by 11am will do that to you, right? On my second-to-last day in Rome, I strolled down to Fountain di Trevi to enjoy an early lunch. Sitting on the cobbled street, watching the crowds pass, I ordered bruschetta and a glass of white wine...but the waiter brought me a 1/4 litre. Obviously this girl isn't going to waste wine, and it really didn't look like THAT much. So, I slowly drank the glass. Then poured more....polishing off the wine, growing warmer...and a little dizzier as the time passed.

And then, when I tried to stand up to leave, it all hit me: the combination of too much wine, hot + humid weather and uncomfortable shoes on cobbled streets.

I was pretty tipsy. Accidentally. Me + walking home wasn't going to work.

So, what's a girl to do...when she's accidentally drunk at noon, wandering alone in Italy with a 1 mile walk home...in uncomfortable shoes? She sobers up in a piazza with some gelato.

Gelato: Pistachio, specifically, in a cup. Lemoncello will do in a pinch. Although, a gentleman coerced me into trying Nutella gelato on my last night in Rome. Wise man. Wise, wise man. If you've never had it, get on that pronto. Don't let anyone tell you "It's like ice cream." It is not. It's just not. It's better.

To say I loved Rome would be the understatement of the century...and I've got more to share over the next few days. But, I adored every minute of it. Oh, except for that minute where I didn't check my translator app while reading a menu...which resulted in accidental anchovy pizza order.

Gross. But, I'd do Rome all over again in a heartbeat.

Well, I'd do it again...but maybe less wine if I'm walking home alone. ;)


having a purpose.

(what i've been looking at. instagram: rinserepeatblog.)

Just a word to the wise: Don't adopt a teeny, orphaned street kitten unless you have the ability to drop off the face of the planet for two weeks to feed him every two hours, coax medicine down his throat and chase him around to ensure that he's not falling off/choking on/bumping into/dozing off/crawling under every unsafe item in your home.

Should you choose to accept this challenge, expect all of the aforementioned things to happen...every single hour. Also expect that your teeny treasure will declare your laptop Public Enemy #1, prancing across the keyboard and turning everything you type into:


So, let's hope you don't have any ultra-important online communication awaiting you. ;)

Thankfully, I've had nothing better to do over the past 14 days than to act as a kitten shield and feline pillow, watching TV or reading a book while Lucky awkwardly sprawls across me rendering me unable to move more than two inches without waking him. And it's been a total joy. He's needy, but you know? It's nice to be needed, to feel like I have a purpose. Even if that purpose is something as silly as keeping a teeny baby kitten alive...a kitten that no one really cares about except Gabe and me...it's therapeutic.

Purpose is something that I've lacked since my move to Kuwait (more here), but taking the last few weeks to just...unexpectedly disappear, to be mostly silent...to travel, to fall in love with this teeny, tiny thing that needs me has been beyond therapeutic. It's that ol' thing where you think you're saving someone, but in reality...that someone saves you. And yeah, for me that "someone" is a kitten. Silly, but true. And even if I temporarily set aside writing and keeping up on Google Reader for two weeks to figure this out...the kitten snuggles are a nice pay off. :)

But I'll say this: Gabe and I are the most nervous pet owners alive. Because Lucky started his time with us by, oh...almost dying....every sneeze leads to no less than 17 Google searches to make sure he is healthy. This baby kitten is enough for our delicate nerves, and we've been routinely swearing off having children for the next five ten eight years. Okay, exact number of years is TBD. But...no kids for many, many moons.

Cross my heart I'll be back on Monday (with a 100% kitten-free post about Rome...finally!). Gabe came though with a ridiculously huge kitten playpen, so I can finally use my laptop, take a few photos or work on a craft project without worrying about Lucky getting into trouble. I'm so jazzed to be back here regularly, like a normal human being who writes a blog in a foreign country so that her friends + family know that she's still alive. ;)

Thanks for sticking around, even if I've been a bit scarce!


...and then there was lucky.

(he tries to drag all 12 feet of this ribbon around the house. adorable.)

Don't worry...I didn't defect from my Kuwaiti life in order to live out my days in the Roman sun. No, no. The internet dropped out for a few days in my hotel in Italy and I took it as a sign that I should just enjoy the rest of my time there :)

On Wednesday, I came home. And before my bags were even unpacked, life dropped this little cutie in our laps. His name is Lucky, and we are so, so in love with this half-pound, 4 week old piece of sunshine!

The fact that he's alive is honestly a bit of a miracle, because Lucky has a pretty sad beginning.

A kind-hearted 16-year-old boy found Lucky at two weeks old, near death under a pile of garbage and cement blocks. The boy's family couldn't keep Lucky, but nursed him back to health, named him and found him a new home. Sadly, a few days later, the boy found Lucky...again...out on the streets. It seems the adoptive family decided they didn't want Lucky and just threw him back out on the street. The boy's family took in Lucky again...and found another adoptive parent. After a few days, this new family, too, threatened to throw Lucky back out on the street. Lucky was returned to the original family...in a plastic bag. (The original family was so outraged by this. We were too.)

Thankfully, the ever-compassionate boy and his family kept searching for a forever home for Lucky. It was totally love the second Gabe + I saw his photo on PAWS Kuwait.  When we met, Lucky rubbed against our fingers, meowed on the way home and cuddled into our laps right from the start.

(held by gabe for perspective...he's only three fingers wide!)

After just two days with us, Lucky got incredibly sick...shivering, unable to keep food down, and so lethargic he couldn't keep his eyes open for more than a few seconds. We rushed him to the vet, where he was diagnosed with an intestinal infection. We learned how to give him saline injections (even the vet's smallest needle was too big...saddest thing ever!), how to get .2 ml of lemon-flavored medicine down his tiny hatch and how to best feed him...six times daily, a blended mush through a bitty syringe.

We teasingly tell Lucky that he's preeetty high-maintenance. (He seriously is. But it's worth it.)

Long-story-longer...Lucky is better. He spends a lot of time sleeping in my arms since his meds make him pretty sleepy. And well, he's a half-pound, 4-week old kitten so naturally cat naps are a past time! In his awake time, he does all the adorable, normal kitten things: chasing ribbon, begging for more food and belly rubs. ;)

We are so, so grateful to the kind, compassionate family that found Lucky, and saved him three times. And, we'll never have enough thanks for the International Vet Hospital and Dr. Angelo Leone who intervened when Lucky was slipping away from us...if you're in Kuwait and in need of a vet, please do consider IVH!

Anyway, someone needs a feeding. But, that's what's up. And I'm pretty excited about it. :)


rome day 2.

I'm a wanderer. Yes, a wanderer in life if you want to get philosophical. But also a wanderer in travel.

Gabe and I are so different that way. He likes a plan, to know exactly where we are, with an exact destination in mind. Not me. Plans give me hives--I hate being locked in, and I'd prefer to stroll down streets, into churches, popping into shops until I'm tired...and then rest at whichever restaurant smells good at the moment.

Yesterday, I fed my wanderlust via a hop-on-hop-off bus tour around the city...just trying to get the lay of the land for future strolling. Clearly it didn't pay off, as I found myself lost, lost, lost after hopping off in search of Piazza Navona.

But if there's a good place to be lost, it is most certainly Italy. I looped around and around for hours without the slightest clue where I was. I didn't even look at a map...just wove in and out of streets, not choosing to go left or right but simply to follow whatever street was the cutest.

Yeah, you read right. I chose my direction by cuteness.

My husband would have hated it. ;)

My cuteness radar lead me past lots of fountains and cobbled streets, and eventually dropped me infront of a grocery, where I saved some Euros buy purchasing dinner there. Earlier I'd spent 11 Euros on gelato, so a grocery-bought dinner was my penance for that little financial indiscretion....

After checking out, I walked until my grocery bag was so tattered it nearly burst and my arm was numb. Then I pulled out a map and zig-zagged my way home.

Later in the evening as the sun went down, I returned to my bench at Piazza del Popolo and split dinner with a friendly pigeon. Usually I call pigeons Rats of the Sky. But in Italy? Well, just like everything else in Italy, they are charming.

All in all, a lovely second day.


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