Saturday, August 24, 2019


After a little sightseeing in Seattle, we ventured away from the city for our family reunion. 

On the way, we stopped in Leavenworth, a Bavarian-style village. As someone who is from another fake German town (literally called Germantown), I really appreciated this one. They took it a lot farther than my town did. Actually being in the mountains helps.

Definitely worth the stop! This Europe-starved girl quite enjoyed it. (1.5 years since I've left the country... really feeling the itch!

Our reunion took place in a little town called Cle Elum. We stayed in cabins that surrounded a main lodge where we could eat/hang out together. It was a little too close to nature for my comfort level, but it was wonderful to see the family, and a very pretty location.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019


After an entire year not traveling, I was excited to GET OUT and go somewhere new. Even if it wasn't in Europe.

I ventured to the West Coast for the first time. My mom's family generally holds family reunions every other year. This year we met in Washington state since 2 of my mom's sisters live in the Seattle area.

My family took the opportunity to sightsee in the city before heading to the reunion. It didn't take long for all of my pre-existing Seattle stereotypes to be proven. It was overcast and rained a little bit every day, and there were TONS of trees, liberals, and Starbucks locations. 

We started our day with a cruise around the Seattle harbor- very relaxing way to start the trip.

I still get confused about Seattle geography and which body of water is where (Puget Sound, Lake Washington, Pacific Ocean...). My dad solved the problem by proclaiming "IT'S THE PUGET SOUND!" every time we were driving around and saw water. Works for me.

After the boat ride, we started walking along the boardwalk towards Pike Place Market. Imagine our surprise when my dad drove by riding a rickshaw. Still can't believe he found  someone who could pull all 6 of us tall (besides my mom) adults. It was a fun surprise and a nice ride but I felt bad for the guy.

I liked the market because the food was delicious and because crowded markets (as opposed to spacious grocery stores) remind me of being in other countries. I didn't really like watching people throw fish, however... because you can smell the fish.

Thankfully my mom wasn't feeling fish vibes either, so we split up while everyone else got seafood. We got crepes and pasta instead. A Marissa dream world.

We worked off some of the food by walking to the Space Needle for the next obligatory tourist stop. 

Before going up, we went through the Chihuly Glass Museum. If glass-blown modern art is your thing, then this is the place for you. I thought it was really cool and loved taking pictures there. In one room, my mom asked us what our favorite sculptures were. My dad replied "The bench," and David replied "The exit sign." So I guess it was not their thing. 

Finally, it was time to ride to the top of the Needle. I am not a big fan of heights but am generally fine if I'm inside a building. The views were great but I did not super appreciate the REVOLVING GLASS FLOOR. A little disconcerting, to say the least.

All in all, it was a pretty good intro to Seattle and Washington State. There is possibly more to come about what we did the rest of the week.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Houdeks in Hawaii

In the spring of 2017, my family met up with us in Europe to embark on a crazy week visiting Switzerland, Cannes, Monaco, Florence, Siena, Venice, and Verona.

It was amazing and memorable, but exhausting. My dad declared that the next year we would go on a trip where the only itinerary would be "beach, pool, sleep, repeat."

One year later, the six of us found ourselves on a plane to a dream destination: Hawaii.

We chose Maui because it's supposed to be calmer and less crowded than some of the other islands. This was strictly a no-sightseeing-allowed trip, so it was better to not be tempted by Pearl Harbor or other such places.

The legends turned out to be true- despite it being Memorial Day weekend, nothing was overcrowded. We often had the pool to ourselves and always had plenty of space on the beach.


We stayed in a condo on the grounds of the Grand Wailea resort.It was honestly one of my favorite parts of the trip just to walk around the gorgeous hotel gardens. 


The beach was a short walk from our condo through those beautiful grounds. We spent every day there swimming, relaxing/reading on the sand, and getting sunburned. Even David, the half-Sicilian who never burned once in France, was a tomato by the end of the week. 

Sunset walks (and dances) were a highlight of the trip!


You know, for when swimming in the Pacific got boring. Actually, more like for when I got tired of being sandy or tired of walking the 5 minutes to the beach. It was the perfect place for some light reading.


Our only exception to the no-sightseeing rule was a day trip to Lahaina. Cabren really wanted to try surfing, so we had to venture to a beach with bigger waves. He loved it!

David ended up giving it a shot as well, but he hated it so, so much. I don't know that I've ever seen him hate something that much (in America haha). We were proud of him for trying though!

We managed to see a little bit of the town, including a giant banyan tree that takes up a whole city block.

I convinced the family to stop at the Jodo Mission Buddhist temple on our way back to Wailea for a few pretty pictures. :)


Eating was one of the few approved activities besides sleeping and swimming. Hawaiian food is all about fruit and seafood, neither of which I'm a big fan of.

I was, however, a fan of the locations where we ate. I'm more than willing to not love the food if I have the chance to hang out in this type of paradise.

The restaurant Humuhumunukunukuapua'a (yes, that's what it's called- named after Hawaii's state fish) was on the hotel grounds and was right on the water.

The mall in Wailea was too fabulous to have a food court. We ate at a fancy restaurant there and the girls stayed to do a little shopping.

Our most memorable meal by far was at the lu'au! We went to one on the hotel grounds. We loved the view of the ocean as the sun set.

The dancing was very fun to watch, but the most entertaining part was when the fire dancer got right in my dad's face with his torch and screamed "EAT IT." 


Before we flew home, we ventured out on a last-minute snorkeling trip.

Hanging out on the boat was a relaxing way to end the trip. No one ended up seeing many fish, but there was a lot of coral. I had already seen a few giant turtles while swimming on our normal beach, so I was content.

Hours later, we watched the sun set one last time from our balcony, packed up, and sadly headed to the airport.

It was truly an amazing time and my parents are amazing for bringing us there. David is already saving up with dreams of retiring right on that beach. 😂

Until next time, Hawaii! (A girl can dream).

See also: Houdeks in the Holy Land