Southport, NC

Yesterday my family went to Southport for my little sister's birthday. Sarah turned 13; officially a teenager! Sarah is one of the sweetest people you'll ever meet. She could read a book for hours and blows us away with how many she'll read in one week... or even just a few days! She also loves to write and does an amazing job. She's wise beyond her years, with a compassionate, servant's heart that loves others and loves to give. I'm so proud of who she is and who she is becoming. 

This was the first time in three years that the entire family was even in the country for her birthday! It was so good for my family to spend a relaxing, fun day together. We had beautiful weather with a bright blue sky, a rainbow around the sun, and cool breezes. We took the ferry to Southport and then had a picnic under a lovely shade tree. Afterwards we walked around town for a while, admiring the cute houses and charm of the town. I'm so thankful to call this place home! 

We got creative for our one and only family picture of the day!

We got creative for our one and only family picture of the day!

Athens, Greece

I'm back with the next in my series of posts on Europe! One place I knew I wanted included in our trip was Greece, so we planned to visit Athens. We ended our trip here, flying from Italy into the city. Our hotel was in an excellent location right in the heart of a shopping district. We had a view from our tiny balcony of the carless street lined with outdoor-style chandeliers. We spent a lot of our free time wandering the nearby stores. 


When we arrived we were hungry travelers craving authentic Greek food, even though most of us weren't quite sure what that was! Our waiter at the restaurant was thrilled we wanted to try Greek food and excitedly explained the menu, persuading our choices. We ended up with more food than we needed, but it was very good and we enjoyed ourselves! 


Our first full day we had a private tour scheduled. We were picked up at our hotel and given a drive-by tour of some landmarks of the city. Then we went to the Acropolis museum. It was built over an excavation site, so some areas of the floor were made of glass to see - very cool! I felt like a learned a lot on that tour and it was one I thoroughly enjoyed. We ended at the Acropolis. We had a birds eye view of the sparkling city. It really did seem to sparkle! I believe we were told that it's caused by many of the buildings and homes having solar panels. Hundreds of years ago there would have been few, if any, buildings. 


One reason I loved visiting Athens was because of the biblical history. It appreciated visiting the city where Paul once preached and we were even able to see Mars Hill from the Acropolis.


“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.
— Acts 17:24-25, excerpt of Paul's sermon in Athens

P.S. I have ONE more post coming and it's going to be good!! The next place comes up in conversation on the regular around my house! Be on the lookout :)

Read more about my trip to Europe:

Rome, Italy

Florence, Italy

Venice, Italy

Lucerne, Switzerland

Paris - Part 2

Paris - Part 1

English Countryside

London, England

Rome, Italy

Can you believe I'm still posting about my trip to Europe? I have two more posts after Rome! It's going to be a struggle to write about what we did, but it's important for me to have each city posted for me to remember - especially since the last one will be one of my favorites!!

I can't believe it's been close to a year since my grandma, mom, sister and I left. This time last year we were gaining excitement and already making preparations! I've been missing these places a lot over the past couple months and hope to return as soon as possible!

Today's post is on Rome, Italy. While I didn't fall in love with the city itself, it held some of my favorite sites! The city was huge, busy, and not great for walking. Our hotel was in a great location in that it was very quiet, but we didn't feel like we were close enough to walk to any of the popular sites. 

When we arrived, we had almost a full day so we went to grab a late lunch and tour our area of the city. We were craving authentic Italian food, but the restaurant we ended up at served mostly American food. I think I ended up with a burger! After lunch we walked to the Trevi fountain, the closest tourist site we were familiar with. The Trevi fountain was about the only place close to us and the hot, summer day wore us out so we spent most of the evening in the hotel. We did venture out to get gelato and fresh strawberries. Gelato was always on the menu for dinner in Italy! We took full advantage of the delicious dessert. 

The next day was our tour day. In the morning, we woke up for an early breakfast. The picture above was our view from the dining room. I was blown away when I first saw it. It was absolutely beautiful!! After a quick breakfast we headed to our first tour of the day in the Vatican. I enjoyed it, but now that I've seen it I wouldn't be interested in going again. One of the halls (pictured below) was gorgeous. It was very colorful with beautiful maps along the walls. It was also neat to see School of Athens and the Sistine Chapel. I learned about Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel the semester before our trip, so I appreciated having some historical knowledge (and a few fun facts!) in my mind as I was there. The semester after we returned I learned about it again, so it was fun that time around to learn after having already experienced it. It truly is an incredible work of art! 

That afternoon we toured the Roman ruins and the Colosseum. This tied along with Greece (post coming soon!) as my two favorite tours! I love history, and being at these places I was able to step back in time and put them to the stories I heard in the Bible and school. Our tour guide did a wonderful job recounting the history and allowing us to envision what the ruins would have looked like in their time. How I would love to step back in time and see the grandeur for myself! I would definitely love to return to the ruins and walk them without a tour group. As you'll see in the pictures below, the ruins are beautiful and it's a very fun place to walk around. 

That evening we took a taxi back to our hotel and then we across the street to a cute little pizza place. The lady working there was so kind! One of the most fun parts of the trip was meeting new people and I think it's something I'll try to do more on my next trips. After pizza we went for... can you guess?? Gelato! I wasn't joking about it being an every night occurrence! 

Our last day in Rome we had nothing on the agenda. We found out it was a national holiday - I think their independence day - so most of the stores were closed. We spent most of the day relaxing; after two full weeks of going non-stop it was nice to have a day to catch up on rest! We ate lunch at one we had been to one of the other days where we found some of the best pizza we had in all of Italy. My mom still craves it! For dinner we had, you guessed right again, gelato. My mom and Lauren, surprisingly, didn't venture forth for one more night of gelato, so my grandma and I hunted for a gelato place. We liked the one we had been to, but we were still wondering if it was real gelato. It's very similar to ice cream, and even though we had eaten it for several nights, we weren't quite experts. We found a place nearby where the line was out the door! We figured that was a good sign, but decided to walk the streets some more since the line was so long. After walking for a while we couldn't find another place so we decided to stick out the line and hope the gelato was as good as the place across the street from our hotel. We became a little stressed when our place in line finally reached inside because all of the flavors were in Italian! We assumed that to be a good sign since it wasn't geared for tourists and must be the real thing. The place was so crowded we didn't have time to ask what all 20+ flavors were, so we asked a couple questions and then hoped for the best! It turned out to be the best gelato we had on our entire trip! They poured chocolate into the cone, then stacked on three large scoops of gelato. Are you drooling yet?? Just writing about it makes me want to fly back for more! Grandma and I took a picture with our successful find and then ate it only a little guilty that Lauren and my mom weren't able to enjoy it as well ;). 

And that's our trip to Rome! If you made it through reading the entire post, congratulations! :) Now I hope you enjoy all the pictures and are looking forward to the last two posts. They're two of my favorites!!