Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Europe - 2009 Pt.1

In the summer of 2009, my husband’s family and I went to Europe for 6 weeks. We landed in Rome and didn’t look back. Here is where we went: Italy, Croatia, Italy (again), Spain, France, and England.

Rome was my first experience in Europe. I had never been to any European countries, so my imagination was the only frame of reference I had. Luckily, Rome far exceeded all of my expectations or imagination. Within 45 minutes of checking into our hotel, there was an amazing thunder storm that drenched the city. After that, the weather was beautiful. We would wander around all morning, grab lunch, take a snoozer, and then continue walking well into the evening. From Rome, we travelled by train to Florence. Florence (aka Firenzi) is a city that feels small because of the tall buildings and narrow streets. Next up, we took another train to Venice. Walking out of the Venetian train station made me feel like I was in a movie! The sun was glistening on the water and beautiful flowers were flowing out of resident's windows. Robbie and I splurged on a ridiculously expensive dinner to celebrate our anniversary and were the most lost we've ever been trying to navigate through their narrow passageways.

From Venice, we set out on a cruise ship and our first stop was Croatia. Since we only had one day in port, Robbie and I set out early. We walked around town a bit, ate some yummy pizza for lunch, and visited a unique little music store. We headed into the mountains for a hike and found a weird "zoo" fulled with guinea pigs, frogs, baby brown bears, and a wolf. It felt as though it was how zoos in the States would have been 50 years ago. It was very bizarre. Before we boarded the ship, we visited a farmer's market and bought some fresh flowers for our cabin. 

Our ship brought us back to Italy, which was great because we were able to visit a part of the country we couldn't get to the first time around. While in Naples, Robbie and I climbed Mt. Vesuvius and were able to see all of Naples. After our hike, we explored the city of Pompeii. Oh my goodness, my history geek come out in full swing in Pompeii. It was absolutely incredible! To see how people lived and then to image that they were completely covered by ash was unbelievable. I was intrigued and saddened at the same time. Next, we hit up the Vatican City with a guided tour. If you are going to visit the smallest country in the world, do it worth a tour guide. Trust me, it is worth it. After the Vatican, we landed in Pisa to see the leaning tower. Unfortunately, this is pretty much the only real attraction. You don't need more than a day because the small town is completely centered on the tower.

Spain was our final destination on our mega cruise. I have mixed feelings about Spain because it's culture and people are amazing, but it took all of my photos leading up to this point. That's right, after we left Barcelona we had all of our photos stolen and I was left completely heartbroken. But there is nothing that can be done about it now, so let's talk about the positive parts! In order to do Barcelona right, take a nap! You will need enough energy to last into the wee hours of the morning. Most clubs and restaurants don't really get going until midnight. Bonus: Robbie and I were there when Barcelona FC captured a major victory and we witnessed an impromptu victory parade as it went past our hotel room. After Barcelona, we spent a couple of days in Cadiz in the south of Spain. Robbie's brother had studied there for about a month a few years earlier, so he was able to show us around to some of his favorite spots.

Have you visited any of the above places? Any recommendations on what to bring?


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