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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Finally....Our Europe Excursion

Back in November, Scottie had the great opportunity to do a Study Abroad program in London for accounting. Of course this was during the time that he was away in Denver so you can imagine my thoughts...."WHAT? YOU WANT TO LEAVE ME AGAIN!?!?" Of course this time was different. He would only be gone for two weeks and he would have been home from his internship for two months by then. So, I thought it would be a fun, once in a lifetime, experience for him. That's when he got the idea of staying two more weeks after his Study Abroad was over, to tour the rest of Europe (a total of four weeks which = one month). That's when I put my foot down. There was NO WAY my husband was going to leave me again for another whole month. Both him and I know how the emotional stress seems to take a toll on me while he's away? So my clever husband decided that I should come along for the extra two weeks. I would fly out the day after I got out of school to meet him....and live in a backpack for two weeks. Can you imagine the thoughts running through my head? I was a little nervous that I would have to travel alone...all the way to France.....where they speak a different language.....and also where they kidnap young girls and get them addicted to drugs and traffic them. Ok, so I had just seen the movie "Taken" so give me a break. But how much more fun would it be if your best friend came along? So I asked my good friend Chelcie Christensen if she was in. Of course she said yes and so we packed our bags and said goodbye to our first and second graders. Soon we'd be off to Europe and I would be with my husband again touring the sights of Europe. Take a peek!

Paris

Right after we stepped off the plane, it was 8:30 in the morning. Needless to say, our plane left Utah at 7:30 and the sleeping pill I planned on to put me out didn't really work so I hadn't slept for 24 hours. That's why I look like this...


I was so afraid that if I shut my eyes for more than two seconds I would pass out on the floor. I don't think I really remember walking through Notre Dame....sad. Scottie and Chelcie got the biggest kick out of how tired I looked.

Here we are with Notre Dame in the background. It was quite amazingly huge. And to think that it took 200 years to build blows my mind.

After this, Scottie suggested that I take a nap to tie me over till night time....I didn't argue.

When I woke up we went to the Eifel Tower. I loved it! We didn't spend too much time in Paris the first day because we were going to be flying out of Paris and so we'd spend two more days there when we came back.




The next day we took a train up to Amsterdam to meet up with Scott's friend Jarom.

We got to see...
Anne Frank's house where she and her family went into hiding. The inside was really neat even though we weren't aloud to take pictures.

...A million bikes in a parking garage!!


I have never seen so many bikes. Just think of how many people drive cars here in the U.S. then think of how many people ride bikes here in the U.S. Now what if you were to put all the people that ride bikes in cars and all the people that drive cars in bikes, you'd be in... Amsterdam!

AH! These were the best strawberries I've ever eaten and I was quite excited to have a little fruit for a change.



This is the wonderful hostel we stayed in. But first, a little story. Jarom was the one who booked this hostel and for some odd reason he forgot to tell us that the men and women had to sleep on different floors. Hence the name: The Shelter Jordan, Christian Hostels. I was mortified when I walked in and saw thirty bunks beds. I felt like I had just been admitted into a juvenile detention center. IT WAS PUNISHMENT!! I had to meet Scottie in the stairway to get something from our bag because we were sharing one so I wouldn't have to carry it (how sweet). Let's just say, Scottie booked all the hostels after Amsterdam.




After this fun trip we took a night train (sleeper train) to Italy making a stop in BEAUTIFUL Mittenwald!

This is what the sleeper trains looked like....except ours had two more beds in the middle for a total of six altogether. Can you say claustrophobic?


goofing off with Chelc in the hallway of our train.


The train workers didn't like us I don't think? It's a good thing they spoke German.


Catching up on some reading before I hit the sack.

I slept very well surprisingly! Until we got a very unwelcoming wake up call in German? Yes, we thought we had arrived in Auschwitz it sounded that harsh . I have no idea what was really said.

Mittenwald, Germany

After arriving in Mittenwald, which is on the Germany/Austria border, we found our way to the visitors center and goofed around taking some pictures.


Then we went to eat on this lovely street....


enjoyed some yummy pizza (not really a bratwurst fan sorry)


Chelcie enjoyed hers too...


until a bird swooped low and crapped perfectly on her napkin. haha


After a good lunch we tried to find this hike that my parents had told us about. In the process we ran into this cute family from Frankfurt who told us where to go. When we asked the man, who's name was Wolfgang, how far it was, he told us he would just take us (it was like three miles up the hill)! They were so sweet to cram us all into their tiny car and drive us to the border of Austria where the trail starts. Thanks!!

Here we are at the trail head about to see some of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen! Do we look excited or what?

This hike was amazing! The bridge was suspended between the cliffs as you hike down the mountain. As you're walking you look down below you and see the river, which is Turquoise blue! GORGEOUS!











On the border of Germany and Austria

x







From Mittenwald we hopped on another train and were on our way to Venice. But first we made a quick stop in Innsbruck and ran into the missionaries. They were of course from, Lindon Utah, well one of them.
Here we are in Austria. Wait? Is that the Arc de Triomphe? No, but every country has one I swear.



Venice, Italy
By the time we got to Venice it was dark so here is Venice at night...






and Venice by day!



Saint Mark's Basilica




We got to go on a Gondola ride. Here is our wonderful guide! He was so fun and sang to us as well as made some funny jokes.



Going under a bridge. You can see him ducking behind us! The tip of our Gondola was scraping a little the water was so high.


The arch in the picture behind us is the one we just came out of. I really didn't think we were going to fit.







Overall I thought Venice was amazing! If you go, don't forget your map like we did. When we were out and about touring we decided it was getting late and be should probably head back. We kept following the signs to lead us back to the main part but we got so lost! It is truly like a maze and alleys are so tall and narrow. After a while it was obvious that we were not the only ones lost! We ran into a few other people who would ask us if we knew how to get out. Then we ran into these two drunks. They must have been pretty drunk because he sounded like he had a dutch accent. When we asked him where he was from he said Ohio? Anyway, all of us looked at their map and tried to figure it out. But we both thought we should go different ways. When we went our seperate directions, we ran into a local and we asked her for directions. This is what she said: (in an Italian accent) "okay okay. You go down this way, then you see a bridge. Then you go right and then left ....and then you ask someone else. Okay?"
It was pretty funny. On our way out we ran into the drunks again who were headed in the wrong direction and were oblivious that we even passed them! I wonder if they ever found their way out. It was laughing pretty hard and very tired from walking. I was amazed when we looked at the map to see how far we had really gone.

Rome, Italy
We arrived in Rome on June, 7th which is my birthday so needless to say I had the greatest birthday ever! I got to see ....

The Collosseum









It is crazy to think that the Collosseum was built in 70-80 AD!! It also held mock sea battles and they would fill it with water! Here, more than 500,000 people and animals were killed in events. Crazy!!
Old Ruins of Rome


The Pantheon





Creepy Catholic Graveyards in the basement of a church?
Ok...let me clarify. Not that it will help? This is in the basement of the Santa Maria Cathedral in the Cappuccin Crypt in Rome, the bones of 4,000 monks who died between 1528 and 1870 are lined up for the delight — or disgust — of the always-wide-eyed visitor. A plaque explains the monastic message: "We were what you are...you will become what we are now." Yes, bones. Everything that you see here is made of bones! Everything from chandeliers to murals on the wall, stacked high of every bone from a human skeleton. They even had corpses propped up in freaky positions. No, this is not a haunted house in fact we weren't suppose to take pictures but we couldn't believe our eyes! Tell me.....how do they get away with this?

capuchin








The Spanish Steps
From the bottom looking up...

and from the top looking down...





And then we ate a WONDERFUL yummy pasta dinner at a restaurnt just above the Spanish Steps. It was amazing :-)

The Vatican Muesum





Trevi Fountain



and the best gelato ice-cream in the WORLD!!!


the next day we said goodbye to our wonderful little hostel called Fiesta Terrace. I know it looks like we stayed in the slums of Rome but it was actually quite cozy on the inside!




From Rome we went to Florence and stayed for two days. This was our good buddy at his yummy pizza place. He just couldn't understand why we didn't want anything to drink? haha

We also got to see the original statue of David. Now I know why everyone raves about this statue. It was phenomenal!!! This isn't the real one because we weren't aloud to take pictures so here is a replica on the outside of the museum. The statue is huge!



From Florence we took day trips to...

Sienna



Cinque Terre
While we were in Florence we thought we'd add an extra stop on our trip and hit the beach in Cinque Terre. Problem was, we didn't plan on swimming much on our trip so we didn't bring a swimsuit. We looked everywhere hoping we'd find one. Strange enough, this fun beach town had a total of five swimsuits that I wouldn't be caught dead in!! So if you're wondering why we aren't in swim attire it's because there was none to be found!








Overall this was a great day. I really needed a break from our trip. So a nice day laying out and reading a good book was perfect!! While I was laying out on the beach I noticed that a lot of people obviously didn't mind what they looked like in a swimsuit....or no swimsuit? Here I was enjoying the beautiful surroundings when what to my surprise!! I look to my left and find a very endowed girl around my age totally topless!! It was kind of strange that it didn't come as a shock at first. Then when it registered to me what exactly I had seen I gasped!! I think all the museums of nude statues had definately taken its toll on me. And to think that I was too embarrased to buy and sport one of those ghastly swimsuits? I should have just braved the Baywatch high cut cheetah swimsuit after all :-( Sorry no pics.

On our way back from Cinque Terre we had purchased our train tickets back to Florence. Now, keep in mind that our train's last destination was Florence, also known as our stop. As we were riding along we stopped at every train stop and would wait for everyone to get on and then we'd be on our way again. As we were goofing off in our private room having a good ol' time, the train stopped again. This time it seemed like forever and we wondered when it was going to start moving again. Suddenly someone pounded on our door. We were quite confused thinking that we should stop goofing around. After a few more minutes we became anxious as to why our train was STILL not going anywhere. Becoming curious, we opened the curtains to look outside and to our surprise we were parked at the train yard!!! We couldn't believe our eyes. Then all of a sudden, we heard men throwing trash on the floor and sweeping it up! Everyone had gotten off the train and we were the only ones left. We quickly got up put on our shoes and opened our door. The train was being cleaned and it had never went to Florence! So we had to ask the cleaners where the train station was and walk to it. From there we had to get on another train and go clear back to Pisa to catch another train back to Florence. Still to this day we don't know what happend. All we know is that we got on the right train but it never took us to our final destination. Crazy Europeans?

Pisa



The next day we hopped on another night train to France. We were excited since our last sleeper train was quite a fun experience. This time was a little different? As we boarded our train we found our room and got situated. We were going to be sharing a room (more like a jail cell) with:

a nice Italian woman
a not so nice Italian man
and a chain smoker

lovley :-)

It was a good thing we had Chelcie who speaks French because she was able to talk to the nice Italian woman who also spoke some French. This train was similar to our last one but it was much much hotter!! At first we thought that when the train turned on the air would kick in and it would cool off but much to our dismay it just got worse!! We seemed to be on the party train and it was packed! By the time it was ready for bed I tried to fall asleep in the sweltering heat. But because it was so hot we had to open the window. Have you ever slept on a train with the window open? It's not very....soothing. Before long everyone but me was asleep and this is what I endured while everyone counted sheep:

-the baby crying on the other side of the wall
-the sound of the bunk bed ladder crashing to the floor
-the train SQUEEELING on the tracks
-the chain smoker getting up five times to have a smoke-don't ask me where he went to take care of his business because there was no smoking on the train?
-the smell of the stinky smoker coming back in after his smoke breaks
-the train being lunged forward while the train switched engines
- almost falling off my bed while the train switched engines.
-the door flying open and the ladder crashing to the floor once again, when the train switched engines for a second time.
-finally drifting off to sleep but then waking up to the squeel of the train on the tracks
-the mean Italian man above me leaning over his bed telling me in his italian accent "THE WINDOW!!! SHUT THE WINDOW!!!"
-me getting up off the bed I don't fit on to shut the window when wait? It was closer to his bed!!!
-Finally arriving in France and feeling totally disgusting because of the thermal cave we were crammed in.

Here we are in our cramped quarters. Poor Scottie was too tall for his bed.


Can you tell how onry I am from the heat?


Chipper Chelce enjoying her good book before we turn out the lights


Waking up in the morning and snapping a shot with our new Italian friend. She even gave us some of her perfume and cookies. She was so sweet I don't know how she ended up with such a mean husband?



After arriving in France we took the Metro forever to get to our Hostel. Now let's play a game of
fortunately/unfortunately

Unfortunately there was a little bit of a problem when we got to our hotel. Someone had left the water running and flooded the whole floor. So when we arrived they didn't have a room for us.

Fortunately they booked us in another hotel around the corner.

Unfortunately, we were too early and couldn't check in to our room for another four hours.

Fortunately we had things to see so here we are at the Louvre, in our wonderful attire from yesterday and our wonderful night before. I've never felt so gross! How many pictures have we taken like this? haha





Unfortunately at this point in our trip we had seen every possible museum known to man. So when we got to the Louvre we walked straight in and saw...

The Mona Lisa....




...and walked straight out. Terrible I know but really all the art starts to look the same after a while.

Fortunately we made it back to our hotel but unfortunately they were still not ready for us so we waiting another hour and then got ready for the day. We then hit up the Sacred Heart Church....clear on top of the hill!



The famous Moulin Rouge


....and back to the Eiffel Tower!! This time we got to go to the top!


While we were waiting in the rather long line we started talking to the people around us. It was kind of funny because every time we'd start talking to someone on our trip they'd ask us where we were from. Once we told them we were from the States they'd ask us what part. They would get all excited hoping we were from L.A. or New York so when we told them we were from Utah they got a disappointed look on their face because they had never heard of it. Seriously? I had to learn all about where you people live in high school so why can't you learn about our neck of the woods? haha anyway back to the story. So while we were waiting in line we started talking to these people that were from New Zealand. This time was quite different. When they asked us where we were from and we said the States, they asked us where. When we said from Utah they got this excited look on their face and asked if we were members. They were LDS as well and we had a good time talking to them. Here we are at the top with them.



Views from the top




I'm not one to get nervous when it comes to heights, but going to the top of the Eiffel Tower was a little different. When we stepped into the elevator and started our way up to the top I started getting freaked out. It felt like it was never going to stop!! It just kept climbing and climbing. Finally when it stopped we had to get out and... get in another elevator! Finally when we got to the top we got to see some pretty amazing views! I loved every second of it!


the next day we woke up and spend our last day in Paris/Europe. We went to Versailles. It was enormous and beautiful.

The Palace




The Gardens




Now for our top twenty five best moments in Europe!

25. Or not so friendly German wake up call after arriving in Germany at 7:00 am

24. Christie being FREAKED out to cross the street like normal pedestrians

23. Chelcie getting hit on by an Italian man at the train station and not being able to communicate due to the language barrier....talk about the ultimate shaft.

22. Running into the oblivious drunks in Venice...twice.

21. Looking out our window and realizing that we were in the middle of a train yard...parked.


20. Chelcie and I eating our breakfast in the food court. Suddenly a McDonald's worker comes and tells us to move our food from the table. She then takes our table and drags it elsewhere. She later returns and tells us to stand up....and then proceeds to take our chairs.

19. Sleeping in Florence and waking up to find that Chelcie had been eaten alive by mosquitos due to the window left open to create oxygen in our room. Did I mention her swollen eye?

18. Scottie refusing to pay to use the bathroom at the train station. Get this....he hops on a train that is parked and takes care of business. He then goes to exit the train but can't get off and starts to panic because all the doors are locked. Moments pass when a bystander comes and opens the door from the outside using the release lever.

17. Christie takes a shower in France. She then goes to get out and panics because the door is stuck!! Absolutely stuck. Paranoid that the hotel workers will have to come relieve her in all her glory, she screams for her husband to come and rescue her. He can't get the door open either. Moments of desperation pass when suddenly Scottie realizes that the door doesn't push open....it slides.

16. Running into our New Zealand member friends at the Eiffel Tower.

15. Chelcie and Christie's OBSESSION with foreign food such as crepes, gelato, and more crepes and gelato three times a day.

14. While flying to Europe the flight attendant asks us what we'd like to drink. Christie requests a Diet Coke and if they had any limes that would be great. She comes back with a Diet Coke and seriously...a 1/18 of a lime. Kidding? I am not.

13. While staying at the Shelter Jordan Hostel, Christie walks in to find her bunk only to find that the Asian sleeping above her has several Voo Doo dolls lined up on her bed?

12. Scottie flipping through the channels to find something to watch on T.V. Thank goodness for shows like "Italy's Funniest Home Videos" that don't require you to know the language for you to understand what's going on. Scottie never laughed so hard in his entire life.

11. Christie being chewed out by the Italian man sleeping above her like so: "THE WINDOW, SHUT THE WINDOW!"

10. Vacation Victories!!!!

9. Trying to communicate with loved one back home by using a European keyboard at the internet cafes.??? Where in the world is the @ symbol? Impossible.

8. Christie spending hours washing clothes in the sink only to find out that in the morning they smelled even worse thanks to the wonderful odors of Europe.

7. Christie spending her entire vacation allowance in one stop?

6. Scottie, Chelcie and Christie being COMPLETELY paranoid that they were going to be pick pocketed in Rome. "Eye on the prize! Eye on the prize!"

5. Walking the streets in Rome and being completely confused as to why EVERY shop was owned by an Asian? I thought we were in Italy?

4. Checking in at the Bitchlerhoff in Germany and not being able to communicate at all. But really? Bitchlerhoff? Need I say more?

3. Sharing a train with two Asians. One who kept dropping her camera and train ticket down below. When Jarom reached up to give it to her she automatically knew it wasn't hers. Then moments later realized it was really was hers and then leans over to say: "hee hee it mine!!"

2. Being chewed out in German for not knowing the language. At least that's what we thought he was saying.

and the number one best moment...

1. Scottie asking for ketchup at McDonald's. It went something like this...

Scottie: "do you have any ketchup?"
Pissed off McDonald's employee: "twenty cents"
Scottie: "oh never mind that's okay"
Scottie then walks away but turns around to see the Pissed off McDonald's worker flipping him off. :-)


5 comments:

The Hall's said...

It sounds like an amazing experience.

Loftus' said...

hahaha!! You have a way with writing - you make me giggle! I'm glad you guys had a GREAT time! I may never make it there, so I "live" through those that visit.

Natalie Kay said...

WOW! Looks like you guys had an amazing trip!

Steph said...

WOW GIRL... you guys saw and did everything! I'm super jealous but it sounds and looks like you had fun! Miss ya

Tiercy said...

I love this post. I think you've done a great job of capturing the experience for those of us left back in the states. I love your description of your ascent up the Eiffel Tower. I can guarantee you that I would have been freaking out.

what a fun memory for you guys.