August 12, 2017

Taking a Bite Out of the Big Apple!

June 25, 2017
New York, New York

For my birthday we took a short train trip to NYC with our friends, the Borman's.  We got a nice breakfast at a diner then walked around the city.  We of course it all the most important places like the Lego store and the M&M store!  We had a great day.

Mike, Avery, Margaret, John & Chason at Grand Central Station

Grand Central

The New York Times Tower in Rockafeller Center

The ballerina in Rockafeller Center

Avery at the M&M store

All of us in NYC

July 7, 2017

4th of July at West Point

July 4th, 2017

Jack and I started our 4th of July at the Brotherhood Winery.  They had music, food and drinks.  It was a lot of fun, although pretty hot!  They had some wonderful wine selections and even some good beer ones for my guy!

Entering the winery

Me & Mike
 After the winery we met up with all our friends at West Point's 4th of July fireworks display.  It was such a fun time.  We met up at our friend Maryam & Tyler's house for a potluck and brews then walked to the fireworks.

Overlooking the Hudson River

Just look at that view!

Me, Ali, & Sierra

Me & Ali

Mike & Me

It was such a fun day and I can't wait for next year!

June 1, 2017

Moving to New York

June 1, 2017
Moving to New York!

My husband was so wonderful that he let me go to Europe with my family while he completed everything for our move from Virginia to New York.  I flew out of Virginia and flew into New York.  It was a pretty easy move for me! :)  We will be in New York for the next three years.  Michael was asked to teach at the esteemed United States Military Academy at West Point.  We are so excited about our time here and look forward to all the new experiences that this will bring!

Our new home!
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That's it so far!  I know these spaces will be filled with friendship and laughter as all our homes have been.  Yay New York!

May 15, 2017

From Europe to the Starrs

May 11, 2016
Pre-Family Trip: Day 1
My family and I had planned a trip through Europe while I was living in Germany but when my husband was offered a teaching position at West Point, New York, we had to postpone it for a year.  Finally it was time!  I flew in to Munich a couple days early so I could spend some time with my friend, Orienna, who was still living in Germany and my friend, Elaine, who was living in England.  We spent that first night just catching up!

Me, Elaine & Orienna

Caution!  Jet lag can lead to Snapchat silliness!

More silliness...

...and one Meeowr!

May 12, 2016

Pre-Family Trip: Day 2
The next day we decided to go to a neat castle ruins and take a hike.  Exploring is one of my favorite things to do and it certainly doesn't need to be a well know tourist place either! We went to the little town oKallmünz.  

My lovely Orienna as we head out

Me & Orienna

Elaine & Orienna

Me & my sweet Elaine

You can see Kallmünz Castle coming up

Orienna, Elaine and me waiting for a pre-hike beer and snacks!

Looking up towards Kallmünz Castle

Elaine, me and Orienna at the beginning of our hike

Kallmünz is such a nice little town.  This is the River Naab.

Pretty neat house built into the side of the mountain

Even the trees had charm!

Coming up to the castle

Cool statues

No idea what these were about but I really liked them

Orienna & Elaine

Me, Elaine & Orienna

Kallmünz Castle ruins

The ladies

Overlooking Kallmünz

The castle walls were built in the 900's while the castle itself was built in the 1300's but was destroyed in 1504, rebuilt and then pillaged in the 1600's.

Such a cute little town know it's gotta happen

...yep!  It happened!

What a fun afternoon!

When we were done with our hike we went home to get ready for dinner.  Of course of whole day was built around delicious food and even better beverages!

Orienna, me & Elaine heading out for dinner

Cheesy posing pre-dinner

Oh how I miss German wine!!!

Me, Orienna & Elaine

Orienna & Elaine

After dinner we went home, had some tea and went to bed.  Our plan was to go explore Regensburg and the Walhalla Memorial the next day.

May 13, 2016
Pre-Family Trip: Day 3

Regensburg.  I love European outdoor cafes.

Elaine, me & Orienna at breakfast

After breakfast we found a cute cafe for hot cocoa and something sweet

Elaine & Orienna at the bakery

Just look at those sweet treats!
After breakfast and our delectable drinks, we went to the Walhalla Memorial.  Walhalla is a Norse mythological hall in Asgard and is ruled by the Norse God, Oden.  The Walhalla Memorial is a physical recreation of the Pantheon in Athens but holds busts of famous Germans, built by the Crown Prince Ludwig and completed in's confusing and weird but the view is amazing and very impressive!

Walhalla Memorial

The Parthenon in Athens (from our trip to Greece)

Elaine, me & Orienna in front of Walhalla

Me, Orienna & Elaine

Orienna & Elaine

Me & Elaine

Me & Orienna

View of the Danube from Walhalla

Elaine, me & Orienna in front of the Danube

It may not look very high but you would be WRONG!

Same location, different view!

After all our exploring we went home and just spent some time together until we had to say goodbye the next day.

May 14, 2017
First Day of Starr Family European Adventure!
Munich, Germany: Day 1
Finally it was time to say goodbye to my amazing friends and hello to my family.  Orienna was incredibly generous and drove me to Munich to my airport then drove to Nuremberg to drop off Elaine to her airport!

It took a little bit for my family to get to me but it was so worth the wait!

Karla & Randy on the plane

Dad & Mom on the plane with drinks!
Once we were all at the Munich airport, we got our car rentals and drove to our hotel, the Bold Hotel.  It was clean, comfortable and had good food and affordable drinks!  Look for the Bold Hotel on too for possibly better prices!

The front of the Bold Hotel

Lounge/Breakfast area

My cozy, clean and simple room that didn't cost me and arm and a leg!
My family that was able to come for the European adventure was my Mom and Dad, Stan and Rita; my brother Randy and his wife, Karla; my brother Brian and his wife Kristie.  My sister Annette and my brother-in-law, Jason could make is since they were getting ready to move to the Big Island in Hawaii, so we forgave them for missing this trip!  Hopefully we can all go visit them in Hawaii some time!  After a nice night catching up and talking about all our fun upcoming adventures we all went to sleep to shake off the jet lag and get ready for it all to begin.

May 15, 2017
Innsbruck, Austria: Day 2
Our first super fun location was Valdobbiadene, otherwise known as the Prosecco region of Italy in Trento.  I have been there many times so I was pretty excited about being able to share that experience with my family.  Before we got there though, I thought we should stop in Innsbruck, Austria since it was on our way.  Besides, the views are spectacular.  It started out pretty sunny and dry and ended up being a little cloudy and rainy.

Kristie, Karla and Mama

Kristie, Brian, Karla, Randy, Mama & Dad (Rita & Stan)

Brian & Kristie

These crazy kids!

I do love Innsbruck!
When we were done having lunch and walking around Austria, we continued our drive to Trento.

 May 15, 2017
Trento, Italy: Day 2 Continued
We stayed at Il Follo, which I had stayed at a couple times and really loved.  It is such an amazing place.  It's not only a Bed & Breakfast but has their own vineyard in the heart of the Prosecco wine region. You may find specials or better prices through again here.

Il Follo

Our balcony

So full of Italian charm!

Our room had a small kitchen and dining area

The sun shone in perfectly every morning

The bedroom

They had a great space to sit and have a glass of wine too

Another rest area with my brothers balcony above

Karla waving out at us

Just look at that view of Valdobbiadene!

As the sun goes down

Kristie, Randy, Karla, Rita (Mama), Stan (Dad) and me

Toasting to Italy
Once we settled in, Brian and I went to go get pizza at Pizzeria Belvedere.  Again, this was a tried and true place to eat.  They have amazing pizza and great local beer.  All for reasonable prices!

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Pizzeria Belvedere

They baked your pizza as the order came in

It was a traditional wood fire pizza oven

The view from Pizzeria Belvedere

After all our traveling and pizza we were ready to call it a night.

May 16, 2017
Valdobbiadene, Italy: Day 3
The next morning, Il Follo had a beautiful complimentary breakfast before we all took a hike around our area, before we went on our wine tours and wine tastings.

This was the breakfast building across from the room building

The door to the breakfast room

The breakfast set up

Eating breakfast
After breakfast, we went for a hike in the heart of the Prosecco wine region.

Kristie & Brian

Karla, me & Kristie on our hike

Kristie, me & Brian on our hike

There were vineyards everywhere

Of course seeing all the bikers, Randy NEEDED to find a bike to rent!

Randy is a huge cyclist and just loved this area!

Mama was happy with all the little religious areas throughout Europe

These silly chics needed to look at what this fellow was so interested in!

After our hike, it was finally time for our tours and tastings!  Our first stop was my all time favorite vineyard!  L'Antica Quercia, or the ancient oak tree vineyard is a completely organic vineyard, which is unheard of in Italy, but very cool.

Driving up to L'Antica Quercia

View of the tower and ancient oak

The vineyards

They have an old wine barrel that has been made into a B&B!

View of the ancient oak from the B&B barrel

They also made a wine tasting room from a wine barrel

The inside of the wine tasting room

The ancient oak up close

Randy & Karla in front of the oak tree

Stan & Rita in front of the oak tree

They put flowers/roses at the front and back of each row of grapes to foresee any molds or illnesses are happening

After our walking tour, we went to the wine tasting with our hostess.

Their break room with the new Logo on the wall

This table was made from actual pillars that hold up Venice!  I'm so in love of this table.

The break room leading into the store front area

The store front area where you purchase wine and olive oil

More of the store front area

Then we went to another wine tasting. We went to Torre Zecchei.  I had gone many times to this winery but our hostess Illenia had stopped working there and they no longer had an English speaking hostess so it was not as fun...not to say the wine wasn't amazing.  We of course bought a bunch of wine from them!

After the wine tastings, we went back to Il Follo to relax a little while Randy went for his bike ride.

Randy taking off for his ride

What we did while he was riding
Also, while Randy was riding his bike, we did a mini tour of Il Follo's wine tasting.  They have a very nice full set up and very delicious DOCG quality Prosecco award winning wine!  The prices are roughly $7 per bottle which makes me crazy since in America, the same bottle would be no less than $40...

They have a small dinning area in the tasting room as well

Wine tasting area

Randy after conquering the Italian hills!

Later on that evening we went out to dinner to a truly wonderful pizza place called Pizzeria Caravaggio.  They even gave us free wine for the table!  You just have to love Italian hospitality!

Pizzeria Caravaggio

Their upstairs dinning area

Kristie & Mama toasting to the day

Randy & Karla waiting for the pizza

Kristie pouring another glass of wine for the Mama

...she didn't entirely make the glass

Yep, only family can throw you under the bus like this!

After dinner we called it a night so we could be ready to travel to Bologna!

May 17, 2017
Bologna, Italy: Day 4
We got up in the morning and began our drive to Bologna.  It was a quick 3 hour and 13 minutes so not a bad day of driving.  This way we had plenty of time to explore Bologna!  We stayed at the Suite Hotel Elite, which was very modern, clean and comfortable enough.

The entrance to Suite Hotel Elite

The sitting area in the lobby

The breakfast room for the complimentary breakfast

The rooftop deck where we sat and had wine at the end of the evening
Once we were settled in at the hotel, we set out to find lunch.  Since it wasn't during normal lunch hours (between lunch and dinner), we had a very difficult time.  In Europe, restaurants are not all open when it isn't breakfast, lunch or dinner time specifically.

The first place was closed

The second place was full and didn't have room for us

Finally, a quiet place with delicious food!
Then we found gelato!!!

We had one happy Kristie!
We walked around bit.  My husband's fraternity was founded in Bologna and the University of Bologna and so I was tasked to find him a shirt and/or some gifts that were Kappa Sigma related.

Basilica of San Francesco

Randy, Karla, me, Stan, Rita, and Kristie in front of Basilica of San Francesco

The back of the Basilica of San Francesco

Our first stop after food was the Basilica of San Francesco

May 18, 2017
Rome, Italy: Day 5
On day

May 19, 2017
Rome, Italy: Day 6
On day

May 20, 2017
Rome, Italy: Day 7
On day

May 21, 2017
Florence, Italy: Day 8
On day

May 22, 2017
Pisa, Italy: Day 9
On day

May 22, 2017
Méounes-lès-Montrieux, France: Day 9 Continued
On day

May 23, 2017
Monteux, France: Day 10
On day

May 24, 2017
Monteux, France: Day 11
On day

May 25, 2017
Lorraine, France: Day 12
On day

May 26, 2017
Lorraine, France: Day 13
On day

May 27, 2017
Leon, France: Day 14
On day

May 27, 2017
Munich, Germany: Day 14 Continued
On day

May 28, 2017
Munich, Germany: Day 15
On day

May 29, 2017
Munich, Germany: Day 16
On day