Wednesday, August 10, 2011

We're coming home!

We have already been traveling for the past two days and we still have another 24 hours of travel. We left Paris on a train that took us to Cherbourg, France. We then boarded a ferry that took us to southern Ireland. It was an 18 hour ride! Honestly though, it was quite the experience. There were bands, shows, and lots of crazy Irish people. It was fun to say the least, the only thing I would not do again was sleep underneath a chair. We had reserved seats, not beds, so we made the space under our seats a place to sleep. With the boat swaying back and forth, it was definitely an awful night of sleep.

After we got off the boat, we boarded a bus, and four hours later we arrived in downtown Dublin. It definitely is great to be back in the place where our entire trip began! It kind of feels like home. We stayed again with Julia and Colm, who have been such blessings to us. I will miss them greatly! It is now 2pm on Wednesday in Ireland, and in about three hours we will be heading to the airport! I am ready to arrive in Nashville, surrounded by good ole' southern folks and my momma! The first thing I plan to do Thursday night is get Pei Wei with some wonderful friends.

I have had such a blast on this trip, and I am excited for the adventures it might lead to in the future. I loved being with Veronica and Taylor for a month, and its a miracle that we never got sick of each other! I thank the Lord for giving us all the courage to do this trip, to do something none of us had ever done before. We stayed safe, and had little problems. I'd say it ended up being the perfect Eurotrip!

To Nashville and then Chattanooga! I can't wait to be reunited with everyone in my life again. :)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Paris. My oh my.

I can not believe this is the last city we are visiting before our long travels home. Paris was a nice city to end this trip on, mainly because I have no money and have been here before so I didn't need to spend any money! I owe Veronica an arm and a leg, but thank goodness I have some one like her when I have no wallet!

We arrived in Paris Friday evening, and our hotel was in Versailles which was normally about twenty minutes away. We decided to take a cab since it was about to poor down rain. We got into a cab, and soon enough we found out that it is not a good idea to get a cab in downtown Paris on a Friday afternoon at rush hour, especially when they charge you ten cents every twenty or so seconds. It took us thirty minutes to go half a mile. I swear french people don't know the proper way to use a traffic lFight. About an hour later, ( you can do the math of how much it euro...) we arrived to the hotel. We have been living luxury while in Paris, this hotel was a steal! We have a kitchen and everything, as well as a view of the Eiffel tower from our balcony. Beats the hotel in brussels that's for sure. We spent the rest of the night cooking meals and resting up for our day Saturday. Might I also add that I washed my clothes in the bathroom sink with hand soap? Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Saturday we woke up late, and our wonderful hostess from Ireland,(Julia) flew in and spent the day and night with us! Might I also add it was Veronica's birthday! We made crepes from a box and honestly napped and relaxed until late afternoon until we were all ready to walk into town. The four of us walked to the Eiffel tower and got the best nutella and banana crepes in town, as well as french fries. We got the classic pictures of the eiffel tower and then went for more crepes. We decided to splurge on veronica's birthday. :) we then went to a Paris market and bought a lot of neat jewelry. Taylor really enjoyed being with three girls! After that we started walking towards the Notre dome, only to find out it's a lot further then expected, so we started back to the hotel. After a long walk in pouring rain we made it back late and called it a night.

Today we woke up with lots of plans! We got onto the metro and got off right by the louvre, which holds a lot of van Gogh paintings as well as the Mona Lisa. When we got to the front of the museum, we saw the line to enter literally had thousands of people in it and there was a three hour wait. So, no museum for us! We then walked around the streets and saw lots of sites, but most importantly the Notre dome. Beautiful piece of architecture, and there seemed to be a sculpture of the hunch back on the side I swear! We then finished up our site seeing and went back to the hotel to say our goodbyes to Julia, who we will be seeing very soon back in Ireland!

I am so sad that this trip is coming to an end, but going out into cit after city and seeing site after site is so tiring. I am ready to be back in the states again! Let's see, if I did the math right, we stayed in 11 cities, 9 countries, and took over twenty trains in 28 days. I'm proud if us. :) be home soon America!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Switzerland. 3 days of bliss.

I can't even begin to describe how beautiful Interlaken, Switzerland is. We are staying in a hostel that has tent camping, and our tent is surrounded by mountains on every side. Most days the clouds sit perfectly on the top, and the mountians are the greenest green. The water every where is super baby blue, and so clear. It's like a little slice of heaven was put on earth in the middle of the Swiss alps. I love it here, and it's been nice to relax and be in the fresh outdoors for the past three days.

We arrived on Tuesday afternoon, and the first thing we did was drop off our stuff and head out to find the water. The currency here is francs, so we had to take out even more money. Besides the dollar this is the fourth currency we have been on. Crazy! We walked literally five miles without finding the lake, so taylor and veronica ended up jumping into the river. After looking around for a little while, we head back for an early night in. I soon realize that I am without my wallet, and it is no where to be found. Sadly, I am pretty positive it is on a train between Milan and Bern, and I won't be getting it back before we leave. Luckily, I still have my passport and veronica's mom is a sweet heart and is letting me use her money and I pay her back later. So no worries, I have money and will still be eating food! I definitely freaked out for a while, realizing my debit card and 75 dollars worth was missing, but my heart was calmed by sleep and good friends.

Wednesday veronica and I slept in while Taylor got up early to hike for the whole day. That did not sound too appealing to us, especially with the major thunderstorms. I could literally hear the thunder roll through the mountains. I have officially conquered my fear of storms. I convinced Veronica to get on a train with me and go up a mountain to a town called grindelwald. It is a cute little Swiss town with cottages spread out among the mountain side. It finally stopped raining and it was gorgeous being on cloud level. After that we went back into Interlaken and took a bus to one of the two lakes in town. Now imagine the color of blue cotton candy as the water color, along with mountains surrounding the entire lake for miles. I seriously could of stared at it for hours. We then met back up with Taylor at the hostel and had a very good meal of granola, milk, and coffee. Yummy!

Today we got up around ten and walked into town to the bottom of a hiking trail. We were ready for a two and a half hour hike up the mountain! However, thirty minutes into it Veronica and I were absolutely dying, and decided to go back down and take the cart up the mountain while Taylor hiked the rest. Yes we know, it's Switzerland and we probably won't get a chance to hike a mountain here again, but we didn't eat well this morning, which was not a good idea on our part. So we met taylor at the top and got a marvelous view of the entire city of Interlaken as well as both lakes that laid on each side. I loved taking in it all, thanking god for blessing us with such beauty. We went back down the mountain and went back to the lake, and now we are relaxing back at the tent site munching on food and enjoying the cooler weather. Currently a herd of cows just walked by on the street, causing a traffic jam. Amazing!

We are leaving for Paris tomorrow, our last city before we head back to Dublin for our flight! So sad this trip is coming to an end, but I am ready to get back and share pictures and stories with everyone! We are all doing well, very tired and sun burned. We are ready for some home cooking, so if anyone is offering one when I get home, I'll gladly accept. :)

Monday, August 1, 2011

When in Rome!

Rome Is by far the coolest city ever! At least in Italy. The people are crazy drivers, but the food is carbalicous! I don't know if that's a word, but we have eaten pizza or pasta every day for the past five days! They don't joke around about their Italian food....or how much it costs.

Yesterday we were able to sleep in a little bit. Taylor did his own thing while Veronica and I went searching for the scooter rental place. After some nice tour guides led us to the right place, we found out shortly that they required us to have a motorcycle license. Now knowing that I won't even get on a motorcycle, we couldn't rent a scooter. We started looking at bus times and prices. Another tour guide from earlier approached us and decided that the man at the scooter place was wrong and took us to another place. Now, the man behind the counter asked us if we had ever ridden scooters before and we said no. His exact words after that were, " scooter is fun, but life is life." basically, it was too dangerous for two American girls with no experience to ride a moped around Rome. Oh well. :( so Veronica and I grabbed some lunch and started walking towards the colloseum. It was amazing, to walk where gladiators walked! The inside was even better, I would advise anyone who ever goes to Rome to go on the inside and see the ruins. From there we walked the streets of Rome, until we got to the pantheon ( NOT the parthanon). From there we went to the very famous trevi fountain. I was able to throw a coin into the fountain, which either means I will return to Rome in my life time or I will fall in love? Im not 100% positive which is true. Regardless, it was beautiful. It reminded me of many many movies. We then headed back to our hotel, even though it took us An extra 30 minutes because I can't read a map. You would think I would have perfected that by now, but those things are tricky. That night Taylor stayed in while Veronica and I had a very wonderful dinner down the street. We were laughing hysterically and made conversation about her birthday next week over margarita pizza and diet coke. When we were finished we were waiting a very long time for our check when the waiter brought us a surprise dessert. Then the two guys at the table behind us turned around and said happy birthday. Such a sweet gesture! We thought they were so nice for doing that, and later found out they were from Tennessee and georgia. It was great to meet more southerners who understood where exactly chattanooga was and that the sec dominates. We chatted for a minute and then we left back to our hotel for the night. Great day!
Today we slept in and started our long walk to the Vatican. We stopped along the way and finally did a little shopping! When we arrived, It was like watching the de Vinci code. We were hoping to see the pope, but no luck. The line was hours long so we didn't stay long but got a lot of great pictures of the outside. We then walked back to the hotel and have been resting ever since for our long travel day to switzerland

Even though I am sunburned and exhausted, I have loved Italy just as expected. I have also decided that I am going to invest in a moped in the next year. Seeing everyone on one makes it tempting. I am ready to be in switzerland in the snow cap mountains! Wish us luck, we are going all out while we are here, hiking mountains and whatnot. Adventures for sure. :)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Vienna, Venice, AND Pisa!

First off, I can't even begin to describe how tired I am. Traveling from city to city on train, getting up early, and staying up late can get the best of you, thats for sure. I keep dreaming of my comfortable bed in my apartment back in Chattanooga, with cheaper food and clean clothes... 13 more days of travel!! However, I have slowly fallen in love with Europe, and I am already thinking of a time I can come back some day, maybe even to live for a few months. We will see what is in store for me. :)

Vienna, Austria reminded me a lot of New York, at least where our hotel was. It was super busy and loud, but the culture was insanely diverse! We arrived around dinner time, and I wanted nothing more than A diet coke, a shower, and sleep. So while Veronica and Taylor went out for a bit I had I a nice evening to myself, catching up on things that are awaiting me when I return home. The next day ( Wednesday), we went to the schonbrunn palace. Now honestly I wasn't too impressed with vienna, until we got here. It was BEAUTIFUL. The palace was massive, and you walk to the back through colorful gardens to a huge lot of more gardens, fountains, and super green grass. At the end of the lot there is a huge water fountain, and behind that was a huge hill and another magnificent structure that we weren't able to go visit. There was also a zoo inside, but neither Taylor nor Veronica were kind enough to come with me to visit the baby elephant and the baby giraffe. My little kid inside me was very upset. I will vouch for Veronica, she was not feeling well and wanted to sleep every chance she got. However, they redeemed themselves by going to the maze with me, which took us about twenty minutes. this is the first city we have been that has been hot, so being outside for a long period of time was tiring. We spent the night planning out Italy and eating some good cheap food from a nearby grocery store. We had a long train ride the next day. It was twelve hour travel day to Venice!
We were on a train from 6am to 6pm, but it was the best train ride scenery wise. Italy has the best countryside by far, and it was hard to sleep when there was mountains and castles and sheep and sunflowers right outside our window! When we arrived in Venice, we couldn't stop admiring all the people. We have conclude that Italians are thet most beautiful people in the world. Our hotel was in the middle of everything, so we dropped off our stuff and just started walking. Even though it was very touristy, it was absolutely amazing. My heart didn't stop jumping the entire night, knowing that I would be spending the next 6 days in Italy. We found some traditional Italian food, and wondered around until dusk. Veronica and I then went to the other side of town and wondered in and out of vendor carts and jewelry shops. Venice was beautiful, and I definitely would love to go back!
Today we woke up, had a relaxing morning with coffee and a croissant, and made our way to thet train station. Luckily the train ride was only three hours to Pisa, so once we got here we had plenty of time to look around. We were not greeted very nicely by our hotel clerk, but regardless we went to find none other than the leaning tower of Pisa. It is everything you would expect it to be: a leaning tower. It still is cool to be able to see it, and to be able to take the cheesy photo acting like i am pushing it up. We then ate pizza, ( in Pisa, next to the leaning tower of pisa), and of course got gelato. Lemon is my new favorite! We found a very cool outside bar with live music, sadly though after two hours of no one playing music we decided to call it a night.
We have finally arrived in Rome! It's dinner time so we just finshed eating and we are resting for our big day tomorrow on the moped! Veronica and I are excited at least... Taylor is certain we will wreck. I say have a little faith! We are going to visit all the big sites tomorrow, including the colleseum, the parthanon, ( the real thing instead of the replica in Nashville!), and the travi fountain!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Prague. Graffiti city.

Looking back on our time in Prague, it was not what I expected. I suppose when you hear the city's name, you think of a majestic city that is super wealthy, beautiful and perfect. At least that is what I expected it to be. The first thing we noticed was all the graffiti that covered all the buildings, trains, and buses. Sadly it ruined the beauty that the city was suppose to portray. Might I also add that we had no idea the currency was not the euro, it was a crown? So we see that a pasta dish is 200 crowns, and freaked out. Luckily, that only ends up being about twelve dollars.
The first night we were there it was pretty late, so we aimlessly found our hotel, and used the rest of the night planning our next day. Yesterday we woke up and filled up on the so called breakfast "buffet" at our hotel (cereal, bread, and coffee), and walked toward the big plaza in town. We came across a lot of huge intricate architecture, that all seemed to of been built at least 100 years ago. I loved the fact that almost every restaurant had outside seating, something I think America needs more of. We went on a Prague castle tour, which is the largest coherent castle in the world. It was an amazing view of Prague from the castle, and there was also a cathedral in the middle of the castle that had stain glass windows all down the sides and at each end of the sanctuary. It was beautiful, to say the least. We also got to see the changing of the guards. Veronica and I couldn't help but laugh at the seriousness of it all. How they stand for an hour without cracking a smile, I will never know. After the tour we were starving, so we grabbed a gyro and gelato back in the plaza, which by far has been my favorite meal. ( and cheapest too!) we walked around for a little bit until the evening, and went to see live jazz in a bar/restaurant. I have fallen in love with that genre of music. I wouldn't be too surprised if that is all i listen to when I get home.
Today we traveled to Vienna, Austria. We will be here till thursday. I'm excited to see what this city has to offer! It hasn't been too impresive so far, considering we have just walked down one street. I have started reading " vintage Jesus", and hopefully I will be done before we leave. It has occurred to me how much time we don't give ourselves to just sit and meditate, and i have decided to give myself some time out of every week we are here to be by myself and do my own thing. It's been very nice, being able to collect all my thoughts and get some writing in. The lord is good!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

And now Germany!

We have spent the weekend in a little town right outside Frankfurt, Germany. I believe the name is wiesbaden? Every street name was really long, and they looked like a bunch of letters jumbled together. I have a new lifelong goal: be able to memorize and pronounce five words in German.
Yesterday, we missed our train into Frankfurt, so instead of waiting for the next one we decided to go back to nicole's apartment, watched a whole bunch of episodes of friends, and finally got the chance to do some laundry! However, not being able to understand German washers and dryers made two loads of laundry take four hours. That night we ate Chinese food and walked around the deserted streets until we found everyone in the city at one bar/club. We ended up hanging out for a while, met some very interesting people to say the least! I must say Germans are a lot nicer than we expected.
Today we went to a food market that is in a plaza down the street every Saturday throughout the entire year. The environment was so friendly and the food looked amazing. Of course, we decide on starbucks. After we drove to a city called rudesheim, where a ton of vineyards that seemed to go on for miles surrounded the city. It was gorgeous! There were a ton of outside restaurants and music, as well as friendly German people everywhere! We decided it would be a sin to be mean in this town. I cant wait to put up pictures!
Tomorrow we are off to prague, czech republic. We are going to go into Frankfurt for a tad bit, and then have a super long train ride ahead of us. I'm thinking about investing in a new book...
I would love to thank everyone for reading veronica's blog and my blog. It really is more of an inspiration for us to write! A special thanks to taylor's grandad pepere, who is our number one blog follower!
I love this trip so much already, and I am already thinking about a time I can come back. I have learned so much more about myself, as well as about the world we live in. There is so much beauty in this world that I've been missing out on. I am so blessed to have been able to afford this trip. Thank you, sweet ce ces. :)