Happy New Year and Sincerest Thanks, 2016!

Happy New Year, everyone!  2015 was a pretty spectacular year for Tony and I, and one I didn’t think we could top.  Well, 2016 proved me wrong.  It was full of amazing adventures, wonderful family and friends, success at work, and the greatest blessing of all – the creation of our first baby.

To welcome in the New Year, I am taking a look back on our magical 2016.  There are so many to thank for this incredible year.  I thank God and my husband.  I also thank my supportive and loving family and friends.  And of course, I thank my wonderful place of employment which brought us to Switzerland in the first place.

January

January kicked off with another visit to Dubai and India.  I try to visit colleagues in India once a year, and given the distance from Zurich, I usually spend 2 weeks traveling throughout this incredible country.  This trip was really special because my dear friends Pratiti, Sonale and Deepali showed me the true, local hot spots of both Mumbai and Chennai.  It was also my first time wearing a sari!

My first sari

Kingfisher at Leopold’s Cafe

February

Even though February is the shortest month, there were a lot of wonderful things I got to experience.  February took us to Nepal for the very first time.  What made this trip special was that Tony was able to tag along, and we were able to visit a local school.  I head up the Corporate Social Responsibility program at work, and we partner with an organization called Room to Read.  I was able to see their work in action and I was floored at what a strong impact they had made at just one school.  We watched first graders learn to read and write in Nepalese and you could see their little minds capturing and storing the information.

Kathmandu

1st Grade Class

Another great thing about February, which happened while we were in Nepal, was the birth of my nephew Adrian!  We were so thrilled to welcome the first baby to the Scarpaci family, and I was back in Chicago only a couple weeks later to visit him in person.  I never knew I could fall in love with someone I had just met.

My handsome nephew

The final amazing thing about February was a promotion at work.  I made sure to take myself to Prada to celebrate.  🙂

March

In March, I went to Doha for work and Copenhagen for the Easter holiday with friends.  Both trips revolved around food which was absolutely fine with me!  Arabic food is some of my favorite in the world so I indulged in Doha, and Copenhagen is known for its high volume of Michelin star restaurants.  However, those few restaurants emptied out our pockets for the rest of the month.   Whoopsie.  😳

Copenhagen

April

April took me back to Dubai for a 2 week work trip, and upon returning, my brother arrived in Zurich.  Getting back to my love of Arabic food, I went all out in Dubai, but I was ready to get out of the heat by the end of the two weeks.  Being in Zurich mid-Spring was super refreshing, and it was nice to spend some quality time with my brother.  I love it when he visits.

Brother and I

May

May slowed down travel wise, allowing Tony and I to enjoy the beautiful weather that was descending upon Zurich.  We tried bowling in Switzerland for the first time which was incredibly fun and felt very American.  We also found out the most amazing news of all – I was pregnant!

June

In June, Tony and I went to Budapest for a long weekend, and I visited London for work.  Budapest was my first trip knowing I was pregnant, and I found myself constantly Googling what I could and could not eat.  Who knew if this Swiss/American baby could handle Hungarian food?  Everything ended up being fine and it was a good first lesson in not stressing during pregnancy.

Budapest

London was much more enjoyable than normal because my friend Sara met me there for the first half of the trip.  We hit up the great sales and trendy restaurants and enjoyed a couple days sans husbands (no offence to Tony).

London

July

During the month of July, I traveled to Spain for the first time.  I was in Mallorca for work for a few days, and it felt like Heaven.  The sun, water, and food (again, me with the food) were all so calm and relaxed.  The people were constantly happy, and the breeze was always available to cool you off.  I didn’t realize a place like this existed!

The end of the month was a treat too because I went back to Chicago to spend time with my family.  There were some very special events that occurred in July with family and friends.  My nephew had grown so much from February and I was very thankful to be able to attend his Christening.

I also attended a very special wedding.  My dear friend Francesca got married at the top of the city, with my dad as my super cool date.

My besties and I wrapped up my trip with our annual birthday dinner.  We’ve held onto this tradition for 17 years!  WOW!

August

August is always special to me because it is my birthday month AND my wedding month.  But this time, it was also the month of our most epic vacation ever.  We did an 11 day cruise in the Baltic Sea and saw so many wonderful new countries and cities.  It started in Copenhagen and took us through Germany, Estonia, Russia, Norway, and Sweden.  It was unlike anything we’d ever done before, and even with all of the cities we saw, sometimes my favorite part was just sitting on our balcony and watching the waves below me.

Our cruise ship

September

By September, I had wrapped up most of my work travel.  My baby bump was starting to show more and more as I was moving into my 3rd trimester.  Tony and I took a weekend trip to Barcelona, our first time in this city.  We really enjoyed the food and as I write this I realize that is probably the theme of my travel this year.  🙂  We were present during Catalan National Day and saw thousands of people out and about, celebrating their nationalism.

October

We took two small trips in October because by now, I was really showing and my mobility was becoming more and more limited.  We spent a weekend in Poland with Tony’s sister and her kids.  We really enjoyed spending quality family time and being back in Krakow.  It has one of the best central plazas or platz in Europe.

Krakow

The end of the month we were in Catania, Sicily, for a last go at summer weather, and it was there we watched the Cubs win the pennant!  They were off to the World Series!

November

The only thing I can really say about November is CUUUUUUUBBBBBBSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!  On the morning of November 3rd, the Cubs won the World Series for the first time since 1908. Tony and I started watching game 7 at about 3am Zurich time and cried tears of joy when they made the final out against the Cleveland Indians.  The Cubs win cemented the fact that 2016 was officially the best.  Year.  Ever.

At the end of the month, we took our final baby-moon – a train trip to Paris to see my friend Sara again and celebrate an American style Thanksgiving.  Baby bump had to learn just how special this city was to us – the earlier it learns, the better.

Baby bump in Paris

December

And now, moving into December, typing this on the last day of 2016, I sit back and reflect once more on what an amazing and blessed year we’ve had.  We hosted Tony’s sister and her family for Christmas and it was so wonderful to be with our family during the holidays.

Merry Christmas

Within the next 3 weeks, we will meet our first baby which will be the most magical way to kick off 2017.  Like a kid on Christmas Eve, I excitedly await for what 2017 has in store.

Blessing and love to you and yours, and Happy New Year!

Catania, Italy

Our recent visit to Catania was our last trip by plane before the baby arrives.  After our time in Palermo, Tony and I fell in love with Sicily and wanted the chance to explore another part of the island.

catania-map

Even though it was late October, the weather made it feel like it was the middle of July.  We packed sandals and summer wear and took full advantage of food, sleep and sun.

Catania is known for its history of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, as we passed Mount Etna on our drive back to the airport.  We only had two days to spend, and made sure to dedicate our time to the city centre, the outdoor food markets and the duomo.

Catania

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Catania

Catania

Catania

Catania

I know I’ve written it before, but there is just something about Italy…about Sicily…that makes it so special.  We spent a lot of time at a cafe right outside the duomo, snacking on Italian food and watching how beautiful our surroundings were.

On Saturday, after strolling through the city centre, we wandered over to the old Greco-Roman Theatre.  It was quite difficult to find the entrance, as there are apartments and buildings backed up right into the theatre itself.  The theatre was built around 300 BC and it was incredibly surreal to run my hands along the ancient rocks and sit on the seat benches.  To imagine plays being performed 2000 years earlier was something I could barely fathom.

Greco Roman Theater

Greco Roman Theater

Greco Roman Theater

Greco Roman Theater

Greco Roman Theater

On Sunday, we made sure to further explore the food markets.  The vegetables and produce were the largest I had ever seen.  Peppers the size of a man’s arm; olives as big as apples.  We had multiple vendors try to pull us over to buy items.  I would have loved nothing more but knew it would be quite troublesome to bring apple-sized olives back to Zurich.

Catania

Sicily holds a very special place in our hearts – not only because of how much we love the island, but also because of my ancestral lineage.  I very much look forward to when we can take our baby back to this magical island and show them exactly where they come from.

What the Missus Wore: Last Day in Palermo

Our last day in Palermo was another scorcher – that is why we couldn’t wait to go bananas at the gelato fest.  I saved one of my favorite summer dresses for last, a beautiful flowy number from Anthropologie.  It is a few years old but I have included some links to similar styles at Asos.

Also, for the most comfortable sandals, I always stick with always Chie Mihara or Seychelles.

Anthropologie Dress

Anthropologie Dress

Chie Mihara Sandals

What the Missus Wore:  Dress from Anthropologie (similar here)//sandals from Chie Mihara//sunglasses from H&M

 

Ciao Bella!