Traveling 'Roons: Chapter Three

Athens

Our stay in Athens was the first time we felt "home" on this trip. The kind smiles, the sassy locals, and the fresh vegetables drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice... the flow of this bustling town was second nature to us (even though we didn't have gelato every day). 

We stayed in an Airbnb outside the city center with an incredibly helpful host who sent us maps and timetables for every type of public transport, AND sent us the wifi password BEFORE we arrived. We woke up our first morning around 10:30am (surprise), saved our address in Google Maps, and headed out to the Metro station. Breakfast isn't very popular here so the Rickaroons we packed were a huge lifesaver to start our busy days energized. We got off a stop ahead of the Plaka to explore the markets and pick up some snacks for our day.

Cherries are at the peak of their season over here so we packed a large bag of those, some fresh bread, tomatoes, olives, nectarines, figs, and filled up our water bottles. We bought a small knife for 1 euro to cut up the tomato then headed toward the Plaka.

The Plaka is the oldest section of Athens and was described to us as the mainland Greek island. Narrow streets are colorfully decorated with hanging grape vines and flowers, small restaurants spilling onto the sidewalk, and jewelry and clothing shops. We wandered through the maze and started walking up the hill towards the Acropolis. Tourists on their way back down kept pointing us in the right direction (we don't know if they were just so excited to speak English with someone or what, but every single person happily helped us along) until we took a final turn in the road and saw the citadel sitting on the mountaintop. It literally stopped us in our tracks.

The Acropolis sits on a rocky outcrop of the mountain and contains several amazing structures including the Parthenon. Standing over the city with the wind rushing past you and sunshine energizing your muscles gives you a sense of what it felt like thousands of years ago- the power this place held.

We slowly made our way around all the ruins and headed towards the big Greek flag flying above it all. That was when it really hit us that we made it to Greece. The flag cast a small shadow on the rocks so we posted up underneath for Christina to sketch the Parthenon and me to watch everyone try and get the perfect selfie angle with their screaming kids (best form of birth control in 2 seconds).

We walked down the huge stone steps and weaved through the olive tree garden towards the only water fountain on the mountain. Refilled and finally hydrated, we spent the ridiculous amount of euros for two frozen lemonades because frozen lemonade is life. 

There were more ruins to explore on the way back into the Plaka so we took our time sketching and doing more selfie watching. We passed many classic Greek styled restaurants with potted plants, hanging grape vines, white painted walls, brightly colored trims, stone fences, and amazing smells. Of course we were too busy admiring those buildings to actually take photos :)

The road led us back into the flea market where we bought new sandals (our old ones literally were split in half at this point) and sat down for an 8:30pm dinner with the bright blue sky above us. Our big Athens adventure day ended with full bellies, dusty feet in sweet looking shoes, and a new love for this once powerful empire that epitomized the best of Greek virtues.

Traveling 'Roons: Chapter Two

Roma! Roma!

How do you begin describing a city that's literally been active since the 7th century? No idea. We took the train into Termini Station around 4pm... so we'll just start there.

We arrived at the main train station with my massive backpack, and wheeling my sister's 2 suitcases from studying abroad. We decided to couch surf during our stay to get as authentic an experience as possible, so my sister had the address saved on Google maps and began navigating us through the packed streets of a city much busier than San Diego- in 90 degree heat. I still don't understand how, but we made it to the apartment with a 50 pound backpack on my back, 20 pound computer backpack on my chest, and each wheeling 45 pound suitcases.

Through cobblestone streets.

In 90 degrees. 

All smiles :)

Our hosts lived a mile or so away from the station in a less touristy, hip, slowly becoming gentrified part of the city. Now is when we're going to start calling them friends because they were AMAZING! Julian is a tour guide for Rome so we were literally sleeping on the couch of a better source than Google.

(If you're ever coming to Rome and want a specially designed tour just for you from a true local, and maybe include a cooking class or two, let us know and we'll put you in touch with him! The cooking class includes going to the market to pick out your own ingredients, and if you're lucky a rooftop dining experience :))

Julian lived in Rome on and off (off because he went to New York for college) his entire life, and his girlfriend grew up in Belgium but is fluent in French, Italian, and English. #winners

Our first night we had dinner around 10pm, and we ate whatever they told us to order on a tiny table in the street. They walked us around the neighborhood that was full of young couples, old couples, babies, single guys looking for any single girl, and old friends who could finally meet up in the "cool" night. We went to bed happy, full, and safe, ready to take the next day head on with an early start.

We woke up at 10:30am. Oops. We all had cereal then went our separate ways- our friends went to the sea, and we headed straight into the tourist mecca. We dressed in our comfy, airy, Pi Yoga pants, slathered our faces in Solistick sunscreen, and took our watches off for no absurd tan lines. That day we wandered through the streets and saw the outside of the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, Arch of Constantine, Arch of Septimus Severus, Arch of Titus, Atrium Vestae, the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, the President's home, a few gelato shops... and so many ruins just hanging around next to the street! We couldn't believe how casual this all was.

We walked 8 miles that day, had gelato 3 separate times, and sat in a park with our feet up for an hour to collect our sanity. We weaved our way home through now shadowed streets to find our friends had returned from the sea and planned a rooftop pasta dinner for us! We picked basil from the roof, cut up fresh tomatoes, and made the most delicious pasta we've ever tasted (the secret is to cook the pasta in water as salty as the sea, undercook it by 2 minutes, and finish cooking in the sauce, or in our case fresh tomatoes :))

Homemade pasta, on the roof, at sunset, in Italy. We should end this whole thing here but we visited the Colosseum the following day so buck up.

We bought our Colosseum tickets the day before so there wasn't much of a line for us, and we arrived around 10am so the sun wasn't directly above us. We walked through the massive stone pillars, up the steep steps (Romans must have had incredible glutes), and finally saw the Colosseum from above. The seats Romans sat on had been destroyed so it looked more open than we expected, and you could see into the maze of rooms that were once underneath the stage so it was difficult to gage the original depth of the arena. 

The sun wasn't directly overhead so we found a small alcove of shade to sit in for me to people watch, and my sister to sketch. This was also a good snack break :) We walked through the informational tour on our way out, saw models of what the Colosseum originally looked like and chunks of the original marble that covered the stone. Our friend met us for lunch before he gave a tour, and took us through the non touristy streets where he grew up. We somehow managed to befriend the one vegan Italian so we had fresh pressed juice, a vegan platter of greens, grains, and veggies with freshly made bread for dipping. 

We were free for the next couple hours because that morning we dropped our luggage off at Bags Free, and small bag holding company near Termini Station. We slowly wandered the streets, buying fresh market fruit, tasting more gelato... expertly killing time before our bus trip out to Ciampino airport. Our time in Rome was relatively short spanning 3 days, but it was the perfect amount of time in a bustling city that allowed for moments of friendship, good food, and watching history come alive. We hope you enjoy our pictures below!

Ciao!

Stevie + Christina

Ps. Best travel pants- Pi Yoga Pants

Pps. Best travel sunscreen- Solistick

Ppps. Best travel snack? Come on.

Traveling 'Roons: Chapter One

Orvieto!

The small city on a hill north of Rome by an hour. You take the train in from Rome and ride the funicular up the mountain, then everything is walkable! The main road takes you through the whole city and has all the popular food stops, eventually leading you to Il Duomo, the town's big cathedral. The front of the cathedral is a mosaic facade of biblical stories made by different generations, and the sides are black and white stripes.

The city wakes up around 7am with the shops owners coming up from the town below. Most places close for reposo, afternoon naps, between 1pm-4pm, and families go out at night for late dinners. There were multiple times a child in a stroller was out past our bedtime.

This town is pretty quiet but with a lot of traditional spirit especially during their flower festival in the beginning of June. There's a local market Thursdays and Saturdays where we found the BIGGEST watermelons and most delicious figs we've ever had! When it's hot outside you stop in cafes more often than not and order something iced- if you want to be obvious that you're a tourist order a cappuccino after the morning. They WILL make fun of you. Instead you can ask for a cafe latte :)

Check out photos from our stay below!

Warning: Rickaroons May Cause Life Long Love!

A couple of days ago we received a post on our Facebook page that was one of the most heartwarming things we've ever read. It's so beautiful that there's no way we could make this stuff up. So we will just get out of the way and let you see for yourself:

PS. This is a shoe-in for the winner of our first official month of our photo contest using the hashtag #rickarooning. We will announce a winner every month and will send a free box of Rickaroons!

Keep Your New Years Resolutions

You CAN Do It: Make "Eat Healthier" A 2015 Resolution You Can Keep

We've all been there - Dec 31, writing resolutions for the upcoming year. Some we keep, some we conveniently forget about by January 2. What's the difference? Why do some last and some don't? We are just going off our own experiences, but resolutions come down to 2 quick things:

1. Ease - are you climbing daily mountains or mole-hills? Run a marathon every day or run 3 days per week to train for a marathon. Give your New Year's resolutions a fighting chance.

2. Desire over Dread - do you look forward to your new habit? Or do you hope no one will notice that little cheater bite of [fill in the blank]?  Why not choose a goal that you will look forward to? Look forward to your healthy treat (::cough:: monthly Rickaroons delivery ::cough::) instead of hating yourself for eating that pint of ice cream.

Maybe this could be the year. Maybe this will be the year. No. This IS the year that you finally commit to a healthy New Year's resolution. Not just January, but the whole year. And although we have a slightly vested interest here, we think Rickaroons could help. Here are 6 reasons why Rickaroons can help you stay true to your 2015 New Year's Resolution to cut down on sweets/eat healthier/eat Paleo/eat Vegan or eat more tasty AND healthy food:

1. Our Megaroons and Chocolate Blondes have 3 grams of sugar which is equal to 1/4 of a banana.

2. The sweetener we use is Coconut Palm Nectar - a low-glycemic, slow burning, nutrient dense, eco-friendly sweetener derived from the nectar of coconut palm trees.

3. Rickaroons are certified Paleo Friendly and 100% Vegan. So if you are planning on going either direction and fear leaving sweets behind, fear not.

4. Literally eat them any time of day AND feel good about it. 

5. So handy. Every Rickaroon is individually packaged air tight and ready to hit the road with you.

6. Coconut has been called the tropical tree of life. Three of our five core ingredients are from coconut.

Bonus: Did we mention how delicious they are?

"Eat healthier"

"Go Vegan"

"Go Paleo" 

"Eat less sugar"

Your resolutions are your business. Making them easier is our business.

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Rickaroons: Yoga's Favorite Food

As we grow Rickaroons there is a question that people ask us frequently at farmers markets: "Are these healthy OR do they taste good?" Answer: "Both". 

And since the answer is both, we have  picked up two new awesome accounts this week - a fitness studio and a yoga studio.  Prana Yoga studio, a favorite of two of the Rickaroons founders, has started selling the Megaroon and Bird Rock Fit has started selling all four flavors. The idea to sell at yoga and fitness studios came from the experience of the founders. It seems like time hunger always strikes an hour before workout time. Rickaroons seem to be enough to quell the hunger pangs through the workout without being heavy. 

Just like they were intended by Rick, Rickaroons are becoming known as a fuel for fitness.