Monday, May 23, 2011

The Good Ol' Boot

Six Euro never tasted so good.
We arrived in Florence after traveling all night and most of the morning. Despite sleeping on a steel floor the night before we were excited to see the city. We started to walk around the city and almost immediately ran into a parade. We have no idea what the parade was for, but someone told us something about how everyone in it is unemployed. I don't know if this was Florence's way to give them something to do or perhaps shame them into jobs, but I know if I had to wear those tights I would be looking for employment real fast.
Don't quit your day job... Wait
Once the parade finished we continued to walk around and take the city in. Florence is a city that has chosen to stay in the 15th century. That isn't to say that it doesn't have all the modern amenities, but as you walk around you can see how the city appears now just as it would in the renaissance.
Happy times

I loved being able to turn the corner and see or go into the very places that I have read about for years. It really is no wonder that so many of the worlds great artists have came from the unique city. The Duomo seems to be a painting just by itself.
The front of Duomo
In summary the city is pretty awesome. We even found the "hidden bakery" in the city which surprisingly enough is just a bakery. Turns out that if you want to get a slice of pizza really late at night it is the only place open. We had our pizza and made it back right as the hostel was locking up for the night/morning. Having discovered the small and very local bakery we decided that we have conquered this place and it is time to move to Rome. So one short train ride later and we were there.

Rome, home to the Colosseum, the Pantheon, Vatican city, and a really crappy metro. We were forced to walk almost everywhere do to the metro closing or just not working that day for no real reason. Not that walking through a city this gorgeous is bad, but after roaming the city for 7 hours each day you just want a freaking metro train. First up was the Colosseum and the Pantheon.
Unfortunately, Dave started to feel ill during the day we had to walk across town because the metro decided that it didn't need to open up till the evening.
Notice the people in the righthand corner.  This place is huge.

God's flashlight
Even worse, this is the day we decided to go to the Vatican. I am sure seeing me grinning the whole time didn't help him either.
Yellow fever.

I was running around like a kid in a candy store taking pictures. We got to the Sistine chapel where you aren't supposed to take pictures, but I wasn't about to let some "rule" stop me. Using Dave as a shield I snapped a bunch of pictures.
Ninja skills
For the sake of not making this post any longer than it already is I will wrap it up by saying that we enjoyed seeing all the sights, but the masses of other tourists kinda wore us out, it wasn't even the high season either. After Rome we jumped on a boat to Croatia. Thats another post though. Be sure to check out my great lesson on the history of the Colosseum in the video. Real educational.

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Canal to the Greek Isles

The worlds largest raw fish smelling maze
So our next stop on our trip was Venice. After close to nine hours of trains we were ready to arrive in the fabled city of water. After roaming the maze they call streets we were so moved that we booked a ferry to Greece for the next day.
This is why people write about Greece
The 26hr mini cruise took us across the astonishing Adriatic Sea to Corfu. We arrived expecting to see a shuttle to take us to our hostel, but was greeted instead by a parking lot full of overzealous taxi cabs. A nice lady allowed me to use her cell phone to contact our hostel. The hostess that answered the phone mumbled something about it being Easter and said we should take a taxi. Upon arriving we realized that the Greeks quite love Easter and the mumble over the phone was a result of the free flowing wine. It was fine though because any frustration we had lingering from the journey instantly melted away as soon as we saw the view from the patio.
I am kinda a big deal...I own many leather bound books

The hostel we stayed at was run by an amazing family that would treat us all to a delicious home cooked meal every night. They insisted that the only way to truly taste the flavors of the meal was to have the wine they made. This lead to a many of late nights of story telling and laughter.

We woke up one morning and realized we had been here for close to a week and decided it was time to move on. We said our good byes and left to head back to Italy and continue our trip. Next up is the home to the Renaissance, Florence!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Bears, Moutains and RR&R

So we are still alive for all those concerned. Shady internet plus awesome things to see equals delayed blog posts. Remember, blame the French for the late blog posts. So after flying out of Barcelona we landed in Geneva which was too fancy to have any open hostels so we immediately jumped on a train to Lausanne.
Sometimes pictures don't need captions
We found an amazing lake and spent the rest of the day just admiring it.
Home of the Killer Swans

The next day we hoped on the train to Bern to see some bears. We got off our train and saw a slice of home, McDonalds. We had noticed that Lausanne was very expensive, but surely the home of the dollar menu will help us save some of our precious money. We walked in and scanned the menu for some amazing chicken nuggets and found a price next to it that surely was a typo. 13 dollars for a chicken nugget meal? Crazy talk. Alas, this is the norm in Switzerland. Everyone always talks about how healthy and fit the Swiss are. It is because they can't afford food.

We stayed in the capital Bern for a few days and saw the bears. The bears had a sweet little forest that was riverside. I wonder how much that little pad cost them.

Besides the bears Bern is known for being the home of Einstein. We went to his house and read his whole life story. It was relatively interesting, see what I did there.
Some cousin lovin' went on here

We met an Australian that was heading to Interlaken the same time we were so we packed up and took off.

Interlaken is the home of everything adventurous in Switzerland. Anyway you can think to risk serious bodily harm or potential death they have it. Want to jump off a cliff and swing through a mountain? check. Want to slide off water falls into shallow ponds? check. Basically anything that would make your mother have a heart attack they have. We dropped our bags and went immediately to sign up. The guy at the shop sold us on canyoning. This includes sliding off waterfalls and jumping 30ft into a pond and if we don't land were they say we will crash into rocks. Awesome.

We made it through the seven hour journey thanks to our guides who were some of the most intense guys I have ever met. So when they suggested a hike for us we should have known we were getting in over our heads. Five hours into the hike they said was only about two hours, we accepted defeat and walked down. The view was amazing though.
"Two hour hike" 1/10th of the way in  

When you think of a neat town tucked away in the gorgeous mountains you think of Interlaken.
After leaving we traveling to Zurich to meet up with a friend of my cousins. Rob-Roy and his wife Roberta, thus the RR&R in the title, graciously let us stay at their house and proved to be amazing hosts. Rob-Roy gave us what every guy from Texas cherishes the most, a meal straight from the grill. We were able to take in the sights from Zurich, but they couldn't hold up with great time we had talking and visiting with them and their friends.
Seashell see hell
We couldn't have asked for a better end to our travels in Switzerland or this blog post. Next stop is Venice.