Roaming Rowlands; our trip to Europe

I've decided to keep a little personal journal here on my new website to document fun memories and little life pleasures along the way. I adore my family and our experiences, but certainly realize not every person who visits will share those same feelings! Therefore, instead of cluttering my main work blog with personal thoughts and photos, I thought this would be a great little spot where friends and family can visit to see what's new with the Rowlands. No promise on how frequent or in depth these little posts will be, but I'm excited to at least TRY to share some of what makes us happy as a family on a more regular basis.

For starters, I'm going to throw it back to last March, when Ryan and I took a trip of a lifetime to Europe.....

In life you hear people say "there is never a good time to have a baby"...well Ryan and I decided there is never a good time to go to Europe either. With that being said, we decided to book a trip ASAP, because it just too short!! 

With a husband in residency who works around the clock and being a mom/traveling photographer we truly don't have much structure and very rarely any free time together. He's typically on call when I'm off and by Murphy's Law I seem to always be traveling for weddings or shoots when he's free! I sometimes find myself longing for an 8am-5pm job where I leave work at work, come home to cook, clean, and have dinner promptly on the table at 7pm (with kids bathed of course before my dashing husband in a perfectly pressed business suite comes home predictably at 6pm sharp). Instead our lives involve 4am alarm clocks (for Ryan, duh!); wrinkled scrubs; dashing to day care; a slew of emails; endless editing; wedding scheduling; multiple feedings & diaper changes; laundry; errands; phone calls; dirty dishes; meltdowns; happy hours; bridal meetings; evening shoots, and coming home late to a messy house where the boys are still awake and not bathed!! I wouldn't change it one bit, because our unpredictable schedules keeps me on my toes, and I seem to do better under pressure. 

Although we have very little structure in our weekly routine, it also allows us to to find time to connect elsewhere which leads me to my main point.....TRAVEL!

Ryan and I both have our own hobbies and interests; few of which overlap. One of our favorites is to travel together and therefore we promised each other to always work hard, play hard, and travel often! We are blessed with the most incredible families (on BOTH sides) that enable us to leave our babies on occasion and disconnect from the daily grind. Ryan's schedule is pretty tight; however my job as a wedding photographer has enabled us to travel to beautiful destinations we might not have seen otherwise. I'm still waiting on that magical client who wants to fly us to Europe for their destination wedding...but until then we took matters into our own hands :)

Our trip to Europe was totally a last minute decision we thought was nuts at the time. Fast forward almost one year and another baby later, it was by far one of the best choices we could have made! Extra money and free time will come and go, but these memories will last a lifetime. 

Our itinerary was: Dallas > Madrid, Spain > Barcelona, Spain > Rome, Italy > Sienna, Italy > Paris, France all in 9 days! Without going into too much depth on the day to day agenda, I noted a few favorite memories and mishaps below:

  • Flew into Madrid, Spain. Spent 45 minutes trying to work a metro machine to get passes, entered wrong area, got stuck in holding vestibule where there were no other passengers; freaked out a bit; waited on passes to reactivate; carousel finally opened on the opposite side from where we were stood; huge obnoxious American luggage got jammed in pass through; all within the first hour of our arrival. I blame the jet-lag.
  • Went to visit my sweet friend Elizabeth in Spain. Couldn't work (or fit on) the elevator in her apartment 
  • Went to lunch with Elizabeth and almost got robbed by lie....
  • Got train tickets to Barcelona and entered the first car we came to. Train was luxurious and surprisingly spacious so we took a seat admiring the leg room and electrical outlets. We were in total heaven watching the beautiful Spanish countryside pass us by outside of our giant window. The train police came to check our tickets...they were wrong.... We had accidentally found ourselves in first class when in reality we were to be in the WAY back coach. We took the walk of shame through 10 train cars, once again with our giant obnoxious American luggage. Each car we entered got smaller and smaller. Our suitcases were bumping each innocent passenger in our path to where Ryan finally had to carry our big obnoxious bag over his head to dodge innocent bystanders.
  • Almost missed our flight to Rome because we had too much fun watching Barcelona vs. Madrid at a pub the night before
  • Got to Rome to find our bags were lost. Hunted for them in a foreign airport with minimal English speakers for an hour, went through staff entrance to get them, seemed illegal.
  • Rented a stick shift in Rome, during rush hour, in the rain.... thought we might die
  • Stalled out in front of the Colosseum (literally) with crazy Roman mopeds basically dive-bombing us
  • Drove the Italian countryside in a tiny smart car that Ryan could barely fit in, stopped for the best gas station espresso I've EVER had
  • Arrived at the most charming Bed & Breakfast in Sienna at sunset and planned our Italy trip over a glass of vino
  • Planned a day trip to San Gimignano, got lost in the Italian countryside with bad cell service and a very bad map. Ended up in a one horse town of "Siminano" instead!! Thanks google maps.
  • Got to Paris feeling lucky we were still making it, sat at a cafe for drinks to plan Paris trip
  • Decided to visit the Arc de Triomphe.... after watching all the people at the top; we couldn't figure out how they got there?! We almost resorted to playing chicken with crazy Euro-drivers and run through the giant traffic circle encompassing the historic structure to find that there is an underground tunnel that leads pedestrians there. Thank you Jesus.
  • Were so broke by the end of the trip that we ate at the McDonalds at the end of the Champs Elysées, a famous street with the most high end of designers. 

To ANYONE visiting Paris or a surrounding area, I'm TELLING you to contact Stacey Reeves of  L'Amour de Paris to book a session.

It was the best souvenir we came home with!! Her beautiful work pictured below!!