Europe 2009

I feel like I’ve failed at my travel blog partly due to technical difficulties, lack of free wifi, and time constraints. I had written one blog which is somewhere out in the Internet space and that really discouraged me as well. Here I am at the new airport in Toronto waiting for my connecting flight to SFO. I paid for wifi and am writing this blog to sum up the entire trip. As mentioned previously, Italy was quick. Aside from Rome, I spent a day on the island of Capri which was absolutely beautiful and a day in Florence. The views of Capri just got better as we first taxied higher to anacapri and then rode on a sky lift to the highest point. Amazing views. My time in Florence was very short. The roman city has such great detailed architecture. We walked up over 300 steps in the structure next to the duomo and the city was stunning.
My big complaint happened on my overnight train ride to France. But I will save you from the details. But starting my tour in Provence made me forget all about it. I appreciated an 8 day tour where I was in a beautiful place, had nothing to plan, ate phenomenal classic dishes from the region, and was relaxed. I would awake with my cafe americano and my freshly made chocolate croissants (and other items but those two items were guaranteed each day). We would learn about the region by going to different villages. We toured wineries (for those who know wine, we went to the famous chateauneuf du pape), a chocolate factory, lavender museum (unfortunately not in season), olive farm, buffalo farm, and saw other scenic parts of the country. The other special part of the tour was our lovely accomodations. We stayed in an old 19th century farmhouse that was renovated into a beautiful chateau. I could pick grapes out my window.
It was really sad to leave provence.
I had so many things on my list to do in Paris, and after the first night decided that list would be thrown out the window (including restaurants to try). 2.5 days was not enough. I was so tired of walking through the city, there was no way I was going to climb all the steps in these unique structures or walk around museums. It was a great experience. I felt like an expert on the metro and also covered a lot of territory getting on and off the metro. I also did the boat hopping which was a cool way to see things and get around. I spent a lot of time outside cafes so I could rest my feet. I even went to a spa which was great. My best moment was having breakfast at angelinas across from the louve while it was raining. That l’african hot chocolate was amazing and the best I have ever had. I can’t not mention the eiffle tower. It was so cool. The best views of it really are from a distance. I waited for the lights to turn on and then I kept walking further away from it and it was just amazing. So my first trip to europe was overall awesome! And I hope I don’t have to wait this long to do it again!

When in Rome

I’m now leaving Italy having spent 4 days in this historical country. It has been a whirlwind covering Rome, the island of Capri, and Florence. Rome was the city that I accomplished the most. My companions in Italy were Michele and Andy, two people that were very easy to travel with. They were ahead of me in Europe almost one week and I met them in Rome. I spent my first day with Michele as Andy decided on a side trip to Pompei. I arrived in Rome on the morning of Wednesday, September 24. By the time I got off the plane, took a train to the center of the city, found my hotel, it was already lunch time. :). I found Michele and found a little outdoor restaurant. Because I was feeling a little jetlagged, I ordered a vegetable soup and it was quite good- it was filled with a variety of beans and lentils. Not exactly what you would think to order, but it made me feel good. After a quick bite, we went on our explorations. I had to get some of the major attractions checked off otherwise I would never be done with my list. We went to Trevi fountains and each threw in two coins. One meaning to return to Rome and the other to find love. We visited and walked up the Spanish steps, absorbed the fountains of piazza navona, and managed to see the pantheon. In between that we went to a gelateria and a bar for paninis. I was pretty beat so decided to go back to the hotel and take a nap. I woke up in time to have dinner and asked the front desk where I could get good pasta. He suggested a bar down the street. I ordered my meal take away. I had the best pasta dish of my life – buccatini (the pasta that looks like spaghetti but it has a small hole in the middle) with a bacon sauce. OMG! Amazing, I thanked the guy at the front desk the next day! Michele, Andy, and I decided to go to the Vatican first. What normally can be hours of waiting in line probably took us 10 minutes. We lucked out. The details of most Catholic churches are amazing but when you see the size of st. Peters basillica, it really is incredible. Michele pointed out the windows where the pope normally comes out which was also very cool. We also were directed through the museum to see a lot of amazing artwork and then end with the sisteen chapel. Now we were off to the colloseum and the forum. Words cannot describe these two sites – breathless? I think I saved the best for last. The colloseum really was what I was looking most forward to in rome and it met my expectations. We decided to separate. I went off to find a pastry shop on my list. I had some excellent pizza there and got some cookies for our train ride the next day. The three of us met back for dinner And had more pasta and shared a bottle of chianti. Life is good.