Saturday, July 26, 2008

Someone forgot to tell Europeans that smoking is bad for you

Last night after we returned from Pompeii we went on a night walk through Rome (as I'm sure you noticed with the pictures below). The city was much cooler and a little bit calmer at night, and we got more of a taste of Rome. This morning we went to the Vatican, and had a bit of an interesting experience there. I had reserved a guided tour before leaving for our trip so that we could avoid the ridiculously long lines, but I hadn't paid for it yet which I thought was kind of strange at the time. Anyway, we got there and found our tour guide, and after we'd been standing there for 40 minutes waiting for the rest of the group to arrive he handed out our headsets and immediately the Italian police came over and started talking to the guide. Then they questioned a guy in our group, and the guide came over and told us that he couldn't take us on a tour. Thankfully we hadn't paid him any money, but we were worried that now we'd have to wait in line for hours. We walked up to the Vatican museum, and miraculously there was no line at all! We walked right in, and ended up saving ourselves quite a lot of money! The Vatican was amazing with all sorts of art and intricate detail. And of course, the Sistine Chapel. We also went into St. Peter's Basilica and saw the tombs of the popes. After returning to Rome we visited another museum, took a nap, and then headed back into ancient Rome. We saw Mamertine prison where Sts. Peter and Paul were held, an amazing monument to Italy's first king, and St. Peter in Chains church. Talk to tomorrow on our last day here!

Sitting on the Spanish Steps at the end of our night walk through Rome. Then we tried to take the subway back and it was closed, so our walk continued a little farther.

About to throw a coin over my shoulder into the Trevi Fountain

A mosaic shrine and frescoe in one of the Pompeii houses

In the middle of the main square of Pompeii

Friday, July 25, 2008

We spent today exploring the ruins of Pompeii. I had no idea how large the city was! I was worried that we'd have trouble filling the 4 hours we had to spend there, but it turned out that we actually had to skip a few important parts and probably only saw between one third and one half of the ruins. We also saw basketball great David Robinson! He was super tall. We just ate dinner near the Pantheon, and are about to take a night walk to the Spanish Steps. We haven't really spent a lot of time in Rome yet, so hopefully we'll start to get a feel for more areas of the city that we haven't seen. Tomorrow we're going to the Vatican and more sight seeing around Rome. We'll update more tomorrow!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I don't know why I thought it was a good idea to make a face, but this picture makes me laugh. Plus, the Colosseum looks really cool in the background. Oh, and this was taken from inside a park that we almost got locked into. That would have been fun!

Brian with the Roman Forum in the background

Inside the Colosseum

The view of Florence from the top of the Duomo

I love my Crocs

We made it to Rome! Our feet are killing us, but other than that we made it unharmed. No, we didn't walk here, we climbed the dome of the Duomo this morning before leaving Florence (all 463 steps!) and then walked around and saw the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and the Roman Forum. Tomorrow we head to Pompeii for the day, and I am very excited about that. It was fascinating to see all the ruins of Ancient Rome, and try to imagine how they used to look. Pretty much everything used to be covered in marble, and now none of it is. I'll try to post as many pictures as I can, but it takes a while and I only have 15 minutes (I sweet talked the concierge into giving me 15 minutes for free). Miss you all!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A view of Florence from the top of the Boboli Gardens. They are part of the Pitti Palace.

Watching the sunset on Ponte Vecchio. Imagine music in the background...

Gelato is Delicious

Florence has more of the masterpieces than any other city, and I think we saw every single one! We are very tired but also very content after a delicious homemade italian meal. After updating the blog we'll be finding some dessert and then probably going to listen to one of the street musicians in the Vecchio square. (This is Erika now.) As much fun as Florence has been during the day, I think the night is my favorite. Last night we watched the sunset over the mountains from the Ponte Vecchio bridge while listening to a guitarist, and then walked over to another square for some more street music. It is definitely a different atmosphere here than in London. We are taking more time to relax, moving at a slower pace, and sampling lots of gelato along the way :o) Tomorrow we head to Rome, and I am sad that it will be our last city. We will be in touch when we arrive, and look forward to talking with you soon!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The view of the Duomo from our hotel room window!

Ciao! We are now in Florence after spending a day and a half in Venice. Venice was absolutely beautiful, canals everywhere and little bridges. Although I think I've climbed enough stairs for a lifetime. There were actually a ton of tourists, so we didn't feel as out of place as we thought we would. We've also heard every European language there is! (By the way, it is very annoying that all the symbols are in different places on the keyboards here. It took me forever to figure out how to get the @ to log in!) So far I think that our hotel in Florence is our favorite, because it looks right out onto the main square where the Duomo is (see picture). We can observe all the ridiculous crowds of people and not be stuck in them! We just got finished visiting the Accademia museum and saw Michelangelo's David. I had no idea how tall the sculpture was! If we were standing next to it we would come up to about his mid thigh. Now we're off to find some dinner. We'll post again soon!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Jen, you were right. It really is harder to climb up these lions than it looks! And my wonderful husband decided to take a video of me doing it. Grrr.....

Last Day in London

Since today was our last day here, we decided to get up early and do a walking tour from Westminster Abbey to Leicester Square. Along the way we saw Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, Trafalgar Square, and the Horse Guards. We spent the next few hours in the British Museum. Then we went exploring in Piccadilly Circus, got ice cream at Leicester Square, and walked around Covent Garden. Both St. Paul's Cathedral and Westminster Abbey are closed to sightseers on Sunday, but they are open for services. This also means that you get in for free! We went to an evensong service at St. Paul's, which was really cool. Then we went to Harrods (which will hereby be known as purgatory because of the ridiculous crowds of people) and back to Westminster Abbey for an organ recital. By this point we were starving so we found another pub to eat dinner in, and had some real British food. Now we're back at the hotel, getting ready for our next adventure to Italy tomorrow! Will update soon...

One of the views of Stonehenge. It was more than a little windy!

Windsor Castle!

Brian walking across the Millenium Bridge

Inside the Tower of London, our first day here.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Hello everyone,

Day 2 is going beautifully so far. We've seen stonehenge, windsor castle, and just left Oxford University, alma mater to quite a few famous Brits including my favorite two authors Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. Erika convinced me to steal a menu at the pub where Lewis and Tolkien used to hang out because they were out of t-shirts. So that was fun. Now we're using internet at the Hilton (courtesy of Erika's parents) and are headed to a pub for dinner. After that who knows?

We will post pictures later...

Brian and Erika

Friday, July 18, 2008

Across the Pond

Well, after a loooooong wait in the airport and a trip across the pond, we made it to London! We arrived in the city around 1:30, checked into our hotel, and started exploring. We went on a narrated bus tour on the top of a double decker bus, and got off at the Tower of London. Brian really enjoyed learning about all of the executions that took place there. Me, not so much. But I did enjoy the rest of it, including seeing the most giant diamond ever! After that we were starving so we got back on the bus and found a sweet pub. Oh yeah, to get to the pub we walked by Shakespeare's Globe and over the Millenium Bridge. After eating we walked back over the Thames River to the Tate Modern and saw some Picasso, Mondrian, and other weird things that were supposed to be art? It's now 8:40, but we are both so tired that we've decided to head home for the night and get a fresh start tomorrow. We're off to Stonehenge, Windsor Castle, and Oxford. I'll try to write more tomorrow and also post some pictures. (I left my cord in the hotel.) Until then, Cheers!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

After creating a classroom blog in my technology training this week, I decided that it might be fun to create my own blog for personal use. And, since we're leaving for Europe tonight I thought this would be an easy way for friends and family to enjoy our adventure with us. We'll try to update as often as we can throughout our trip, and maybe even add some pictures! Talk to you soon!