Friday, February 25, 2011

Zermatt, Switzerland

Did I mention how great the Swiss chocolate is?!! It's delicious and we made sure to stock up on our last few nights in Switzerland. Zermatt, Switzerland is the home to the famous Matterhorn. It was a sight; a cold one, but a beautiful one. We stayed in Zermatt for the last 2 days of our time in Switzerland. It was your classic expensive skier town. The hotels were glamorous, the food was delicious, the shopping was extravagant, and we didn't fit in at all. Our favorite foods we ate in Switzerland was cheese fondue, and rosti's. Rosti's were basically hash browns, so if you ordered the sausage and leek rosti it came in a small cast iron skillet with hash browns, leeks, and sausage all together. They were so yummy. In Zermatt, we slept in until 9:00am and then walked up and down the streets drooling at all the things for sale in the shop windows. Like for example the $85,000.00 watch for sale. Who buys something so expensive, even if you do have that kind of money?!! Blake thinks that the people who frequently visit Zermatt must fart and gold coins come out. We will definitely go back when that starts to happen to us. Otherwise that town or even the country of Switzerland robs poor fools like us. After Switzerland we had to visit Poland so that we could save money.

Bern, Switzerland

Bern was place I was the most excited to visit before coming on our trip. My grandma's parents both traveled to the United States from Bern. I had heard so many great things about it from my grandma, that I felt it was a place I needed to see in my lifetime. My grandma passed away a year ago, and at that time Blake and I weren't planning a trip to Europe. If I had known then, I would have asked her so many things about Bern; places to see, relatives to meet. Instead I relied on one of her photo albums from the last time she visited Bern, which was in 1983. I brought it with me on this trip and used it often to see all the places she had visited, so that I could see those places as well. It was such a great feeling to know that I was standing in the same place as she had been almost 30 years ago on her trip to Bern. Some of the things we saw while in Bern were the Bear Pits. The legend of the bear pits is that the city of Bern was given it's name back in 1191 when the first animal hunted and killed was a bear. The bear pits have been in the town since 1513, and now they're in more of a park setting rather than a pit. Other things we saw were the apartment of Albert Einstein, the town clock, the Parliament House, the Rose Garden (it didn't have any roses blooming, but it did have an amazing view of the city), and we did a session in the Bern, Switzerland Temple. We loved the food in Bern, and the people as well. The food was a lot heavier than what we had been eating in other countries, but it was so delicious.

The bear pits, minus the bears (they were in hibernation).

This is the Parliament House. My grandma had this identical picture in her photo album.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Paris, France cont'd

Sorry to make our stay in Paris several posts, but I can't post nearly as many pictures as I would like to on one. Other things we saw while in Paris included the Arc de Triumphe which is right in the center of downtown which is called the Champs Elysee, and the Notre Dame Cathedral. It was fun to walk down the Champs Elysee and see all the places to shop. I remember my French teacher in high school talking about that part of town so much, and to finally be able to see it first hand was great. The Seine River is also a large river that runs right down through Paris. Paris was so much fun and Blake and I both agreed it was one of our favorite places we visited on our trip.

This is us on a bridge overlooking the Seine River

The statue of Venus. They don't know who the artist is, but they believe it is of the Greek Goddess of Love, Aphrodite.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Paris, France

Paris was the best! It was such a big town, with so many large monuments to see. We were able to stay in the same hotel the entire time in Paris, which was nice for a change. The first thing we found while in Paris was an excellent bakery, which we frequented every morning, and sometimes in the evenings. The French girl that worked in the mornings was the cheeriest little thing I had seen on all of our vacation. She was always greeting us with a peppy "Bonjour" when we arrived (which means hello) and "Merci" when we left (goodbye). In Paris it was nice to be able to take our time sightseeing, since we didn't have anywhere else in France to visit. We had hoped to go down to Normandy, France to see the battlefields, but once we were in Europe and talked with some people it was going to be a far distance for a lot of money, so we decided to cut it from our plans. The Eiffel Tower was so much larger in real life than I had pictured it being. We took an elevator ride up to almost the top and then you could take the stairs to go up even higher. I decided to stop at the level the elevator takes you, but Blake went all the way. I don't loves heights, and it's not even enjoyable for me to be in that situation for even a quick glance. The Louvre museum, if I could use any phrase to describe that place it would be "oh my gosh." Not necessarily because of all the wonderful things to see, but because of the size of the museum. It's divided into 3 wings and there are 4 levels to each wing, which doesn't sound like a lot until you see how much there is to see on each level. I think if you wanted to see everything in that museum you would need to do a wing a day and take 3 days to see it all. We did see the Mona Lisa which was cool.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Venice, Italy

Our last stop in Italy was in Venice. We were there for an afternoon and then had to catch a flight early the next morning to France. Again like in Florence, we didn't have a hotel reserved so we went to the tourist information booth at the train station to ask for recommendations. They suggested Hotel Ca' Nigra Lagoon Resort so we checked it out and decided to stay. It overlooked the Canal Grande where they offered the gondola rides (the Italian men that float you down river in their boats), but for 70 Euros we thought it wasn't worth the cost of the 20 minute ride. Instead we went out to dinner and had gelato for dessert. Check out Blake's jacket and scarf. Those are his new European purchases.

Florence, Italy

Our next stop was Florence, Italy. It was for a short stay, but it was our favorite city in Italy. In comparison to Rome, it was much cleaner, the people were very friendly, and the architecture of the city was more beautiful. We didn't have a hotel reserved when we arrived so we just ventured around looking for a place to stay. We came across this one and loved it. It was built back in the 17th century. A few places we visited in Florence were the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, and the Galleria dell' Accademia. The Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore wasn't quite as spectacular as Saint Peter's Bascilica, but the painted ceiling was beautiful. The Galleria dell' Accademia was where we saw the statue of David by Michaelangelo. We weren't allowed to take pictures inside the museum, but it was breathtaking. It was so large and such an impressive sight.

Rome, Italy Part II

Our last full day in Rome we had planned on seeing the Vatican City. The bummer part was that the Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museum were closed that day. We did get to see and go into the dome of Saint Peter's Basilica, see the Holy Vatican Grottos (Tombs of the Popes), and Michelangelos Pieta'. They were all such spectacular sights to see.

That was the view of the Vatican City from the top of the Saint Peter's Basilica dome.

This is the famous Pieta' by Michaelangelo.

This building held the Holy Vatican Grottos (Tombs of the Pope).

There were so many beautiful fountains all around Italy. They usually had one in every town square.

Rome, Italy Part I

After 13 hours of flying time, and 1 layover we made it to Rome, Italy. It was such a whirlwind the second we stepped out of the plane. The airport was crazy, the luggage was heavy, and we had no idea how to find our hotel. We stopped by the tourist center in the airport to get a map of Rome and off we went. A few train rides later, and walking up, down, and around our hotel we made it (3 hours later). It was nice to be able to have somewhere to call home for the next few days. Since we arrived in Rome in the afternoon the plan was to do as much sightseeing as we could that day. That sounded good in theory before we actually made it to Rome, but once we were there it was not appealing to me at all. I figured after a shower and some clean clothes I would be set and ready for the day. Sleep, who needs that? Well lets just say my clothes felt extra tight that day from all the fluid I was retaining, and to top it all off my straightener totally burned up when I tried out my new converter and adapter. Needless to say my hair was a big frizzy mess from the 87% humidity. Then the exaustion set in, and then came the water work tears. I was sooo tired, not feeling the least bit ready to tackle walking around a strange city all day, and I missed home already. After pulling myself together we ventured out, frizzy hair and all to find a new hair straightener and to eat some dinner.

Our next day in Rome was a lot more pleasant. We got up, I straightened my hair :) and out we went to find somewhere to eat breakfast before all the sightseeing. We found this little bakery close to our hotel and the train station so we stopped in. We ordered a few pastries and some hot chocolate. The funniest thing about hot chocolate in Italy is that it's like hot pudding. You can't drink it, you have to eat it. After breakfast we set out for 12 hours of sightseeing. Looking back now I can't believe how much we saw that day.

This is the Roman Forum. It's the remains of the city, that are now under the new city of Rome.

This is us at the Fountain de Trevi. It was one of my favorite things to see because it is so much bigger than I had anticipated and it's right in the middle of a town square.

Some of the architecture of the city. It was beautiful

This is the Italian version of hot chocolate

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Is she a Dog or a Cat??!

Lucy never ceases to surprise us. Blake and I were reading in bed one night and we noticed Lucy was no where in sight. We knew she had to be in our bedroom because we had closed the door so she wouldn't run downstairs. When I got down from the bed I noticed the end her tail hanging out from under the bed. This is what we found...

She loved it under there, and would not come out for the longest time. As you can see from the picture, under the bed is not the most spacious place to hang out. Such a weird dog!

Weekend Project

Our guest room finally looks like a guest room. After living in our home for over a year we recently bought a queen sized mattress with bed frame, new bedding from Pottery Barn that I bought for such a good deal and it's organic-whatever that really means, and this past weekend we put a fresh coat of brown paint on the walls. Don't worry friends and family, you will always have the option of the small, but cozy double bed in our other room, or the queen sized air mattress set up in the living room. I can't wait for someone to come stay!