Life Update: Traveling & the Coronavirus

Hello!

I haven’t written anything on here in a hot minute, but I thought it was time to update y’all on what’s been happening for the past few months!

Let’s jump straight to the topic that everyone is most curious about: the Coronavirus.

Taylor and I came back to the States December 17th for our scheduled Christmas vacation. We had one month to see family, enjoy the holidays, and take a few trips! If you follow me on social media, than you’ll already know that the Coronavirus threw a wrench into our plans to return to China, because as you can see, we’re still in America. On the morning of our flight, we got a call that we had to cancel our flight to China until further notice. Currently, we’re being told that we can’t fly back until March 10th. However, that’s still subject to change because most major airlines aren’t flying to China until later this spring. Originally, I was supposed to return to China at the end of January and then fly back to South Carolina on March 10th, where I’d remain until the baby comes (did I ever mention I was pregnant?). Now, I don’t have time to go back to China without it being too close to our delivery date.

It’s very bitter-sweet, because I was looking forward to spending a few weeks in China before coming home for the birth. All my belongings are in China, and I won’t be able to get any of that back until Taylor returns in May. However, I’m grateful for the extra time at home and I don’t have to worry about long travel days during the third trimester.

If you know Taylor and I, you know that we’ve been filling all this extra time up with loads of adventure and quality time together. Really, the second trimester has been one giant baby moon! ūüôā

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Let’s recap:

In January we rang in the new year in Ireland! IMG_2766IMG_2772

Then, we spent a few days exploring the countryside of England and the streets of London. IMG_29021

My family in Pennsylvania threw us a beautiful baby shower for baby Stevens!IMG_31972

We’ve been to a couple of Clemson basketball games.IMG_3372

We went to visit Kendall in Arizona for a week, where we watched the Waste Management Open. 2IMG_3427

We explored Joshua Tree National Park while we were out west.IMG_3456IMG_3466IMG_3489Where we stayed in the cutest tiny house via Airbnb! You can see the house HERE.

Get $79 towards your first Airbnb trip!

BDC05D6F2F945AF79C1178CC090ED45D1Joshua Tree was the perfect park for me because I didn’t have to hike in order to see all the beauty. Taylor and I were able to drive through the park and relax. IMG_3454

That leaves us with today, where we’re spending time getting boring adult stuff done and trying to plan the next month. ūüôā We don’t have plans at the moment, so we’re taking each day as it comes, snuggling with our favorite girl.¬†IMG_3515

Stay tuned for more updates, and have a great week!

Our Airbnb’s in Switzerland & Italy!

Hello!

Today, I wanted to talk all about the Airbnb’s Taylor and I stayed in while we traveling around Switzerland and Italy! We’ve been using Airbnb for 5 years now, and we absolutely LOVE it. It’s super easy to use and it gives us the opportunity to travel to places we’ve only dreamt about. Hotels can be expensive and unpredictable. There’s nothing worse than over-spending on a hotel and having it be less than desirable. I think a lot of people are hesitant to use Airbnb because they’re unfamiliar with it, and they automatically assume they’ll be sleeping on a crazy person’s couch. I’m thinking about creating a¬†Guide to Airbnb’s, because I think it could be really useful for those who want to learn more about it!

If you’re planning a trip to Switzerland or Italy and looking to stay in an airbnb, this post will be really helpful for you!

** There are two types of Airbnb listings that I’m going to be referring to in today’s post, shared and private. Shared refers to a space the host is also living in. Private, is a space that is separate from the owner’s home.¬†


Zurich: click here to visit the Airbnb listing

Location- You’re right downtown on a quiet street, and above a restaurant. It’s very easy to walk everywhere from here!

Wifi- The Wifi worked fine for us!

Overall Comfort- This one was a little too uncomfortable for me. The bathroom was down the hall (private not shared), and it was basically a mattress in a dorm like room with the little kitchen in the front. However, it was very clean and it served our one-night purpose. We booked this knowing about the lack of amenities and that it wasn’t going to be anything luxurious.

Owner Communication- He made sure we knew where we were going and provided us details about the location. All communication was via the Airbnb app.

Price- $106 for one night


Lugano: click here to visit the Airbnb listing

Location- This apartment was a shared space! The location was close to the train station and also close to downtown Lugano. It was in a great spot!

Wifi- The wifi worked really well here!

Overall Comfort- The apartment was very clean and cozy. Because it was shared, we slept on a pull out couch, which I wasn’t a fan of. We booked it knowing this ahead of time, but I just didn’t enjoy it because of not having my own space. I felt bad leaving my stuff all over her living room. I would rather have my own room and ability to relax. However, it is SUPER expensive in Switzerland, so the price was amazing.

Owner Communication- The owner and her boyfriend were super friendly and made us feel welcomed during our entire stay. They really made an effort to get to know us!

Price- $79 for one night


Lake Como: click here to visit the Airbnb listing

Location- This was another shared space, but more private than the last! It was within walking distance to the train station and downtown Como.

Wifi- It wasn’t the fastest, but it worked!

Overall Comfort- I felt like I was in a hotel room! We had our own room and bath and the owner provided us with waters and snacks upon arrival. This was such a neat place! The decorations made it extremely cozy, and you can tell that the host genuinely likes to make his guest feel comfortable.

Owner Communication- He met us at the front door and helped us with our bags, gave us tourist brochures, and made sure we were absolutely comfortable. He was so sweet! You should definitely check this place out if you’re visiting Como!

Price- $171 for 2 nights


Venice: click here to visit the Airbnb listing

Location- This private Airbnb was right downtown in all the action! Most hotels in Venice are outside the city, so we were super lucky to find this hidden gem. It was easy to explore Venice by foot! It was challenging to get to with all our bags, but the owner met us at a common location and helped us with our bags.

Wifi- The wifi was great here!

Overall Comfort- If you’re looking for a place to stay in downtown Venice (which is rare) this is an amazing Airbnb! The room had been restored, and it was stunning. Such a cool historical, private, and comfortable place to stay! There was also a washing machine here, which I found super convenient since we hit this place about halfway through our trip. If you click on the pictures via the Airbnb link, it doesn’t do this place justice.

Owner Communication- He was fantastic! He rents several Airbnb’s throughout Venice, so he knows what he’s doing. He gave us so many great restaurant recommendations, showed us around the airbnb, and made sure we were comfortable. He was a wonderful host!

Price- $181 for 2 nights


Florence: click here to visit the Airbnb listing

Location- Our Florence Airbnb was also private, and it was beautiful! We could walk anywhere we wanted, and we were around some amazing restaurants and a large market.

Wifi – Amazing Wifi!

Overall Comfort- This was our favorite Airbnb during the whole trip. It was so cozy and Italian. The interior was carefully restored and absolutely stunning.¬†Seriously. Check out the photos in the link, because it’s so cool. You have to stay here if you’re visiting Florence.

Owner Communication- The host met us at the apartment when we arrived and he was so cool. He stayed and chatted with us for about an hour and told us all the ins and outs of Florence. He gave us a city map and circled everything we needed to see, and also gave us some really useful tips! He was a fabulous host!

Price- $184 for two nights


Viareggio:  click here to view the Airbnb listing

Location-¬†This shared Airbnb was right next to the beach! It’s a little bit of a hike from the train station, but you can take public transportation. We had our own room and bath, but they were renting other rooms throughout the house. Being able to see the ocean from our window was fun!¬†

Wifi- The Wifi was okay here. Not the strongest, but it worked.

Overall Comfort- This was my least favorite Airbnb of the whole trip. The location was amazing, but comfort-wise it wasn’t that great. We had to carry all our luggage up several flights of spiral staircases. This was extremely difficult. The room was super small, and the bathroom was one of those where the sink and toilette are under the shower head. Does that make sense? There also wasn’t enough hot water for both of us to take a shower during the same evening.

Owner Communication- The host helped us find the house and greeted us upon arrival. We didn’t see much of them after we checked in.

Price- $176 for two nights


Rome: click here to view the Airbnb listing

Location- We ended our time in Italy with a great private Airbnb! Again, it was downtown and we could walk to everything. If you can’t tell, this is important to us. ūüôā

Wifi- The wifi didn’t work well here, but that was the only setback. Only one of our devices could stay connected.

Overall Comfort- This was a wonderful Airbnb! We had a private room and bath and it was very clean and cozy! If you’re visiting Rome and want to try Airbnb, this is the place to do it! It was just like staying in a hotel!

Owner Communication- One of the best parts about this Airbnb, was that the host met us at the train station and drove us (short distance) to the apartment. Along the way, he pointed out different shops, restaurants, etc. that would make our stay comfortable. There was a café below the apartment that gave us free cappuccinos and one pastry each morning, because the host had a partnership with them. He also had a friend who owned a local restaurant just a few minutes away, so he made reservations for us and it was amazing! The owner of the restaurant took the best care of us too!

Price- $154 for two nights


 

I hope you enjoyed reading about these European Airbnb’s!

If you’re interested in trying Airbnb for your next adventure, please use this link to receive up to $51 off your first trip!¬†www.airbnb.com/c/taylors175

Viareggio/Cinque Terre/Pisa

Our next stop on our European adventure was a cluster of small cities! Originally, we were only supposed to visit Viareggio because it was a small beach town in Italy that Taylor wanted to see. We thought it would be a great halfway point in our journey, and we’d get the chance to chill out for two days. BUT THEN Taylor found out that Cinque Terre was a close train ride and Pisa was right around the corner, and our plans to relax were quickly changed. sigh.

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We arrived in Viareggio late afternoon, checked into our Airbnb and walked across the street to the beach for a few hours. It was a little chilly and the clouds were dark, but thankfully it didn’t rain! Viareggio is a small beach town that a lot of local Italians visit during the year, not so much a tourist destination.¬†There was a fantastic pier that overlooked the sunset and it was so beautiful!

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When we woke up the next morning it was pouring, and Taylor bought train tickets to Cinque Terre. Thankfully, the sun was shining by the time we arrived! Cinque Terre isn’t actually just one destination, it’s a whole cluster of towns within one area. We visited the city of Vernazza, which I believe is one of the most popular. After being there, I can see why.

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You can take a super short “hike” (10 minutes one way) up to the famous view of Vernazza. It looks just like a postcard.

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We arrived in Vernazza around lunchtime, so we searched for a place to eat before swimming. We decided to eat on the top of this mountain that overlooked the water. It wasn’t the best Italian food we ate, but the view was incredible. You should go here for drinks if you’re in the area!

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I wanted to swim really bad, so that’s what we did! ūüôā I can’t stay away from water! I’ll be shocked if we don’t own a home by a body of water in the future.

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Before heading back to Viareggio, we stopped at Manarola, which is just a neighboring small town in Cinque Terre. We didn’t spend much time here because we had a train to catch, but we bought a bottle of wine as a souvenir that we’re planning on opening later in life.

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The last thing we saw this day, was the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa. It was about a two hour train ride from Cinque Terre, but in the same direction of Viareggio. There is literally nothing else in the city of Pisa except for this tower, so please don’t book a weeks’s vacation to Pisa. LOL ūüėČ

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I didn’t want to be that person who stuck their hand out to hold the Leaning Tower, but I felt like I’d regret it later on if I didn’t!

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That ended our time on the coast of Italy! I adored Cinque Terre, and I really want to return to spend more time seeing all the towns. I think we could easily spend a few more days there in the future! Our last stop is Rome! Thank’s for following along this far. Please don’t forget to read the beginning of our journey!

Zurich, Lugano, Lake Como, Venice, Florence 

Venice, Italy

Good Morning!

Today’s post is all about exploring the streets of Venice, Italy! If you missed the first 3 cities, click the links to catch up!

Part 1: Zurich

Part 2: Lugano

Part 3: Lake Como

After spending two nights on Lake Como, we boarded another train and headed to Venice. The train ride took two hours and once we arrived, we started searching for our Airbnb.

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Venice is EXACTLY like the pictures you see. There are no cars, only boats as a means of transportation. Venice is where you see all the famous gondola photos. There are cobblestone streets and a lot of bridges, so keep that in mind if you’re carrying luggage. This was a really rough & long walk for us, since we had to drag our suitcases up and down stairs, cobblestone streets, and weaving through a ton of tourists. It was worth it though, because our Airbnb was in the heart of Venice. (I’ll be writing specifically about all of our Airbnb’s in a separate post.)

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We chose not to do a gondola ride during our time in Venice. Although it’s the famous thing to do here, neither of us were just dying to do it. Incase you’re wondering, it’s 80euro ($92) to ride before 7pm and 100euro ($115) after! That is per boat, not per person. I’m assuming you’ll have to tip the man too, so bare that in mind. If it’s a dream of yours to ride the gondola, then I think it will be worth every penny for you. It looked like a lot of fun!

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Venice is like a maze. There are so many different streets and alleys that you never really know where you are! It’s super easy to get lost. However, each alley has something unique and charming about it!…. or a dead end

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The weather was beautiful the whole time we were visiting. However, with the sunlight reflecting off the water and an abundance of tourists around, it was HOT. I think this was the hottest city we visited during our trip. Even at the end of August, Venice was packed!

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We had a great time walking through the alleys and taking in the beauty of Venice! It actually feels unreal being there. If you visit, I’d highly suggest getting out of the tourist area and visiting the residential area. It was way less crowded and perfect if you’re looking to take photos without hundreds of people standing in the background.

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Although we didn’t take a long romantic gondola ride, we did ride a gondola across the river. This was so much easier than climbing all the bridges! It was also only 2euro per person. If you know Tay’s love for saving money you could have guessed we took the 2 euro ride.

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Before we left the city we grabbed some pasta to go for the train ride, It was wonderful and super cheap!

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Venice was seriously beautiful. If you’re planning a trip to Italy and not sure which cities to visit, add Venice to your list.

**I do have a few remarks about Venice that I need to put out there. First, there’s not much to do. There’s a few historical landmarks and of course the famous gondola ride, but other than that it’s a city for wandering. My second remark is for all the woman out there. This entire city is one big maze and a bunch of paths and alleys. With that being said, this is a place where it would be easy to find yourself in a sticky situation if you’re not paying attention or alone. I never felt uncomfortable or in danger while here, but I was also with a man and he knew what he was doing. I never see anything about this when it comes to Venice, but I think it’s worth mentioning! Think smart, pay attention, and always follow your gut!

My next post will be all about Florence! Stay tuned! ūüôā

Girls Weekend in Nashville Pt. 2

Our next day in Nashville was a fabulous one! We started our day at the Frothy Monkey in 21 South. This was a different location from the previous day, but it was so good the first time that we had to eat it again!

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We loved this location way more than the one downtown. It was extra cozy and homey, whereas the downtown location was more industrial and streamline.

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The two of us split the gravy biscuits, with a side of fruit and bacon. We also had coffee, but that’s no surprise. It was all phenomenal! We didn’t expect the portion sizes to be so large, so we could barley eat it all. One of the employees told us that we could order a half size the next time, so I guess we’ll just have to go back. ūüėČ

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Thankfully, the weather was less windy and much warmer. It was the perfect weather for walking around the city! We needed to walk off some of the food we just ate, so we decided to walk across the Cumberland River Pedestrian Bridge. 

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If you want to see some amazing views of the city and the river, then this bridge is for you! I’d love to walk it during the summer when everything is blooming! Or better yet, during the fall when everything is transitioning!

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There are also several mini parks below the bridge that looked great for dog walking.

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The Bridge gives you a great view of the Tennessee Titans Stadium. If you decide to stay outside of the city, you can park your car at the stadium for free during the off season. You can then walk over the bridge into the city. Thankfully, we lucked out when it came to parking during our trip, but if you plan on visiting during the busy season, I’d highly recommend parking at the stadium. Most parking garages start at $25 per day.

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Once we walked the bridge, we headed back to music row to see everything in the daylight.

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During our first night downtown, we passed a giant candy shop and everything smelled plus looked amazing. We decided to revisit that shop for good measure. ūüôā

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…and we splurged on some giant chocolate, caramel apples!¬†If you love candy apples and you’re ever in Nashville, these will not disappoint!

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Once we were finished eating our apples, we drove around to some nearby antique shops! The best one we visited was the Downtown Antique Mall.¬†¬†If you’re into antiquing or refurbishing furniture, I’d highly recommend this place!

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Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures while inside. However, this was only because I was in heaven walking in and out of each and every room! They had so many items and all in great condition. If you’re in the market for a specific item, I’m sure they have it here!

…Just casually carrying a table down the streets of Nashville. Lacie purchased this piece for $30 and already¬†finished refurbishing it!¬†She is the Fixer Upper QUEEN. I put her up there with¬†Joanna Gaines in my world.¬†After walking around the Downtown Antique Mall, we were hungry for an early dinner. We stopped at¬†12 South Taproom and Grill, and were not disappointed.

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Once we were done eating,¬†we headed to the famous¬†#whatliftsyou¬†mural.¬†We stopped by the mural earlier in the day, but the sun was casting a huge shadow on the wings. Take my advice and go later in the evening when the sun isn’t so high, especially if you want a good picture. This mural didn’t have near as many people standing around it as the other.

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They even have a tiny set of wings, which I’m pretty sure is for toddlers or dogs.

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Sadly, the next day was our last. We started our morning by eating breakfast at the Pancake Pantry. It’s right next to Vanderbilt’s campus, so we were expecting it to be busy. Surprisingly, it wasn’t!

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I’m not lying when I tell you that these were THE BEST PANCAKES I’ve ever eaten in my entire life. I have no idea what is in their recipe, but they’re doing something right!

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Beside specialty pancakes, they also have your typical breakfast food. Each of their entrees comes with a side of delicious pancakes. I ordered a cheese and bacon omelet and it was delicious!

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When we left, there was a line around the building. Obviously, we came at a good time! You HAVE TO eat here if you’re in Nashville. Once we were done enjoying our pancakes, we decided to spend some time walking in and out of the shops.

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We still had some time to kill before heading to the airport, so we decided to go see the Gaylord Opryland Hotel. Taylor had been telling us to go see it all weekend, but how exciting could a hotel be?

WRONG! Entering this hotel was like entering a completely different world!

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It was so beautiful! We walked around the water and looked at some of the shops they had.

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We wished that we would’ve gone earlier in the day to see everything. Neither of us was expecting it to be so beautiful!

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Afterwards, Lacie dropped me off at the airport.

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The two of us had so much fun exploring the city of Nashville. We had been dreaming of traveling to Nashville together for so long, so I’m glad we finally did it. We’re already ¬†thinking about the¬†next city we want to visit. Any suggestions?

Girls Weekend in Nashville, Pt. 1

One of my best friends Lacie and I have been dreaming of taking a girls trip to Nashville together. We both have crazy schedules ahead for the spring, so we wanted to visit before all the chaos. When we were searching for places to stay, most of the hotels downtown were out of our price range. I was kind of expecting this, so I did what I always do and searched airbnb! Of course, there were hundreds of affordable options to choose from!

We chose to stay in an adorable airbnb that was on the outskirts of downtown. Not only was it affordable, but it was in a fantastic location! It was a short 30 minute walk from Music Row and only a $5 uber ride.

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Taylor and I swear by airbnb. It’s a phenomenal way to travel and¬†you can discover some of the most incredible destinations for a reasonable price.¬†It also gives you the opportunity to connect with people from all over the world. If you’re skeptical about staying in an airbnb, choose a place close to home and stay for a night or two!¬†Click HERE for $20 off your first trip of $75 or more.

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Our room was perfect for a long weekend! It was super girly and had everything we needed for a comfortable stay.

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I flew into Nashville on a Friday evening and Lacie met me there. After picking me up at the airport, we drove over to our airbnb and checked in. Then, we walked to Music Row  to explore the downtown area.

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If you want to see what Nashville’s really like, go to Music Row on a Friday night! Music Row is southwest of downtown Nashville and has so many shops and bars. We couldn’t believe how many people were there or how many talented performers there were.

 

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Once we were done exploring, we stopped and got some ice cream. After that, we took an Uber back to our airbnb and relaxed on the upper deck. The deck had so many string lights and a cozy hammock and fire pit.

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This was the perfect place for us to catch up on life!

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The next day, we spent most of our trip walking, shopping, eating, and drinking an abundance of coffee. The first coffee shop we tried out, was the Red Bicycle! It was only a 10 minute walk from our room, and we heard great things about it.

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They serve all sorts of coffee, pastries, and crepes!

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We opted for a cinnamon roll, bagel sandwich, and of course coffee!

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We really enjoyed eating breakfast at the Red Bicycle and would highly recommend it to anyone visiting the area. While we were in Nashville the weather was pretty chilly, but the sun was always shining so we were thankful!

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When deciding what to spend time seeing, the¬†Nashville Farmer’s Market was high on our list.

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There was tons of unique vendors here selling fresh produce, flowers, and food. They had an entire building dedicated to food. We weren’t quite ready for lunch yet,¬†but it smelled amazing!

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The Nashville Farmer’s Market even had a greenhouse overflowing with different plants and gardening¬†decor.

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Once we left the farmer’s market, we did some shopping at the nearby outlets. After that, we were starving!¬†Our next coffee shop of the day was the Frothy Monkey.¬†I’d heard incredible things about¬†this place, so it was at the top of my list of places to try.

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They have several locations in Tennessee, but we went to the one in downtown Nashville.

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I’m glad we went later in the afternoon, because it wasn’t very busy.¬†The Frothy Monkey was super cute and the food was just what we needed! It was also very affordable. I’m so glad we¬†tried it out!

 

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Once we were finished eating, we drove to the famous We Believe in Nashville sign located on the 12 South Dental Studio’s building. If you decide to visit, be prepared to stand in line with everyone else. You’re in charge¬†of taking your own pictures, so sometimes it can take awhile. Especially if there’s a large group!

 

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Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait too long.

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The 12 South area was very charming! They had tons of boutiques and shops along the street. Plus, there was a ton of great places to eat. It was the perfect place to spend the day walking around.

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We finished our second day full circle. We started at the Red Bicycle and we ended there too! Neither of us expected to be so exhausted from walking around all day. We contemplated going out to eat somewhere nice, but were feeling lazy and exhausted. Instead, we drove to the Red Bicycle and tried their delicious crepes.

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The Red Bicycle did not disappoint at night either. There was a completely different vibe during the evening compared to the morning. The morning was busy and crowded, while the evening was quiet and secluded.

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Thank’s for reading about part one of our trip to Nashville!¬†Stick around for part two!