vacation

To babymoon or not to babymoon? Here's my advice

anne and joe at the Piazzale Michelangelo in Florence

You're looking at Facebook and see a picture of your gloriously pregnant, stunningly beautiful friend showing off her perfect baby bump on a white sand beach in Greece.  She's on a "babymoon"... that last adult getaway before her life changes forever.  It seems like a great idea, and she seems to be having a blast, but are babymoons really all they're cracked up to be?

We didn't take one with our first child, but decided to explore Italy before having our second.  Was it a great trip?  Yes!  Would I do it again?  No.

anne along the Arno river in Florence

I planned the trip around the 6 month mark of my pregnancy.  Since my first child was a preemie and my second pregnancy was high risk, I ran the idea by both of my doctors, got medical records to bring along, checked with the airline and made sure to research hospitals in each of the cities we were visiting. 

Italy was a good choice for some reasons, but bad for others.  Let's start with the positives...

Meats and cheese at the central market in Florence Italy

I ate my way through that country and didn't bat an eyelash!  You're not going to be drinking or going on any wild adventures and unlike my gorgeous friend in Greece, you probably won't want to be seen in a bikini, so choose wisely.  I gorged on pasta, risotto and all the Parmigiano-Reggiano I could get my hands on.

pasta cooked in a wheel of parmesan cheese in rome

Another positive was the timing.  We went during off-season, which allowed us to stay in nicer hotels at a more affordable price.  Since my energy level was much lower than normal, we spent a significant amount of time in some very swanky hotels.  Having a luxurious place to relax was well worth the splurge!

Hotel Roma Luxus in Rome
Lobby of the Boscolo Venezia in Venice

Now, the negatives...

Do not underestimate how much your butt is going to hurt on an overseas flight!!  I was horribly uncomfortable and had a center seat, so it was difficult to get up to stretch.  You may want to choose someplace closer to home that has a shorter flight or shell out the extra cash for first class.  Also, consider your luggage if you're traveling by train.  Poor Joe had to lug ALL of our suitcases on and off of every train we took.

Joe on the train from Florence to Trento Italy

Italy requires a lot of walking, as do many popular vacation spots.  Your feet are going to hurt and you may be having contractions already.  I had to seriously take it easy, which made it difficult to enjoy as many sights as we would have liked.  Pack comfortable shoes, even if they're ugly, and make sure to take it slow.  I definitely would have cut out one of the cities we visited if I had to plan it all over again.

exploring castle altaguardia in trento

Finally, don't underestimate the unknown.  Every woman and every pregnancy is different.  Everything was okay with my trip, but my early contractions wouldn't slow down and just weeks after returning, I was put on bed rest.  Risking the health and well-being of yourself and your baby just isn't worth it.

If you really want to get away, without having to worry, wait until after the baby is born.  Joe and I took a trip to Croatia when Beau was about one and a half years old and it was magical.  We had truly earned a vacation at that point and could drink, play and relax knowing Beau was safe at home with Grandma! 

Our first trip to Croatia away from the baby
Sharing a bottle of champagne on Lokrum off of Dubrovnik Croatia

If you insist on something before baby, I'd recommend sticking close to home.  Find a relaxing spa or plan a staycation at a swanky hotel.  You may just rest a little easier not having to worry about potential problems with baby.

 

Eat, shop, see: A girls' trip to charming Charleston

There's nothing better than getting my favorite girlfriends together for a reunion and there are few places better to do that than charming Charleston, South Carolina.  It was my first trip to Charleston, yet somehow the city seemed familiar, probably because it's so much like New Orleans.

Our trip was short, but we managed to pack in a lot!

Home base was the incredible French Quarter Inn.  From the glass of champagne upon arrival... to the extensive "pillow menu"... to the evening wine and cheese receptions, it was luxurious from start to finish!

We stuffed our faces at some of Charleston's best restaurants like Husk and FIG.   We watched pelicans nose-dive for fish in the Atlantic and dined at the Obstinate Daughter, which might have the best seaside decor of anyplace I've ever eaten!  We took a carriage ride through the cobblestone streets, eying the multi-million dollar mansions along the Battery.  We shopped along Charleston's glitzy King Street and perused the tourist shops in the historic Charleston City Market.

Most importantly, we laughed, gossiped and caught up on old times.  Here are just a few snapshots from our adventures!

Winding Down in Wine Country

Chandelier hanging in tree at Viansa Winery Summer is finally over and Joe and I just returned from our last trip of the year to sunny California.  We visited family in Sacramento and fêted our dear friends Mike and Maggie in Sonoma.  Living in New Orleans, we don't get many chances to go wine tasting, so we packed as many stops as possible into a sliver of free time!

Our wine country tour focused around the Carneros Region of Sonoma Valley.  The area is just south of the town of Sonoma, off Highway 121, and makes some of the most delicious sparkling wines you've tasted.  We began our day early at Viansa, where for $10 a person, we sampled their reserve offerings and for $45, brought home a bottle of Cabernet.  The winery is impeccably landscaped and offers sweeping views from the rustic terrace dotted with tables, chairs, strings of lights and chandeliers in the trees.  We sipped, shopped, relaxed and strolled through the vineyards before moving on.

10 minutes up the road you'll find Gloria Ferrer- an expansive estate of the famed Ferrer family, who's been wine-making in Spain since the 16th century!  You may be familiar with their largest brand, Freixenet.  Much like the family she married into, Gloria has a knack for sparkling wine.  Her Pinot Noir-based bubbly, Blanc de Noirs is their most award-winning variety and offered a tasty start to our tour of the facility.  The $20 per person tour lasted roughly an hour and explored different varieties of sparkling wine as well as the wine-making process.

Last, but certainly not least, we made our way to Cornerstone Winery for Mike and Maggie's wedding.  It was a drastic departure from our previous stops.  In lieu of Tuscan architecture, Cornerstone boasts modern art and labyrinth-like gardens.  Everywhere you look there's a sculpture or art installation, intricately woven between shrub-lined walkways.  The ceremony overlooked a modern lily pond, dinner took place inside a tent filled with farm tables, and dancing spilled out of the barn and into windmills on the large lawn.

By the time Joe and I stumbled back to our hotel room, our heads were spinning from all the excitement of the fabulous day... and maybe all that wine as well!