Monday, April 7, 2008

European Tour

On September 17, 2007, my husband and I took an 18-day trip to Europe. We visited Rome, Florence, Venice, Lucerne, Paris and London. I thought that I would post a few pictures of our travels in Europe. Rowena, I know I promised these a long time ago. Sorry it took so long. Maybe one day I will do an actual trip report, but for now this is the best I can do. We took thousands of photos so what you will see just barely scratches the surface. What fond memories I have as I look at these pictures...

First stop, Rome. Man, all I could say was, "can it get any more crowded than this?" I heard that the city would be overrun with tourist, but never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine just how crowded it would be. You needed to pay attention to where you were walking in order not to bump into anyone.

(Just a side note...Since it takes almost a full day to travel from Hawaii to Italy, we were very exhausted upon arrival. When I'm really exhausted, I dream. Each night, in my dreams, all I could see is the constant barrage of people coming toward me and my attempts to avoid them. I dreamt that constantly throughout my stay in Rome. I woke up tired every morning. LOL)

We arrived in Rome about 8:30am, dropped off our luggage at the hotel and immediately went on a walking tour. A very busy city with fast moving cars and Vespas constantly racing by. Those people have nerves of steel to be able to drive in those conditions. And forget about traffic lanes. They make 5 lanes out of a 3lane highway. So amazing to see.

We ate our first meal at lunch in this cute little restaurant off of a side street behind our hotel. For the life of me, I cannot remember the name of this restaurant but the food was very good and it was our first taste of an authentic Roman meal. We were tired and full so we literally "rolled" back to our hotel to unpack.

In the afternoon, we went off on another walking tour. We saw many interesting places on this walk. We took this picture at the Piaza del Campidoglio on top of Capitoline Hill. It is now used as a government building. What a spectacular view of the city.

The Forum was amazing. It was hard to imagine how these structures could still be standing in this day and age. It takes your breath away.

This is our group walking uphill to find the end of the really long line to get into the Vatican. It was pretty harrowing considering how close we were to the traffic and how fast the cars were speeding by. You could almost touch some of them as they passed.

Resting our tootsies in the Vatican. Boy, is this place huge.

These are the women on our tour. The backdrop was a breathtaking view of the city of Florence.

The Ponte Vecchio, overlooking the Arno, was so beautiful. The colors of the buildings were soft muted tones of peach. If you love gold, this is the place to shop. Shop after shop of nothing but jewelry. You gotta see it to believe it.

It was very crowded in Florence too. The main street was filled with wall to wall people.

I don't know the name of this restaurant, but everyone who visits Venice takes a picture of it. You have to catch it before it gets too dark so that you can see all of the details. I dragged hubby over there specifically to get this picture.

The Rialto Market had the most fabulous seafood. Here at home, flies would be swarming around it if you left it out in the open like that. Not over there. In fact, we don't remember seeing any bugs at all throughout our tour.

Of course, we had to play tourist and take a gondola ride. It was really memorable. We were serenaded by a gentleman with a fabulous operatic voice. I was having problems with light sensitivity so it really was uncomfortable on my eyes with the light bouncing off of the water. Hense, those ugly sun glasses.

We travelled throughout Europe by train. Here we are leaving Italy on our way to Lucerne. The train rides were nice and comfortable. I doubt I would ever take a bus tour after riding the trains. Rowena, it was on this train ride that I waved to you. When I saw the Como stop, I knew you were nearby.

We arrived to beautiful weather in Lucerne. This is the beautiful view outside of our hotel room. The Hotel des Balances overlooked the riverfront. It truly is a very elegant hotel. The rooms were beautiful and those feather beds were divine. It soothed our tired bodies after long days of walking.

On our last night in Lucerne, we had dinner at the Old Swiss House. It doesn't look like anything special from the outside, but on the inside it is very elegant and full of old world charm. It's a beautiful fine dining restaurant but a little on the pricey side. The service was especially good.

A view from inside the restaurant...

It was recommended that we have the Weinersnitzel. Actually, it's exactly like Tonkatsu w/o the katsu sauce or veal cutlet w/o the brown gravy. I still don't know what all the hype is about. It was tasty, but very plain.

The lobster bisque was very velvety and delicious.

This is what it looked like when we arrived in Paris...storming. Do you see the Arc de Triomphe in the background? It's almost barely recognizable in the rain. Too bad, this was the only time we had the opportunity to get a glimpse of it. Luckily, it cleared up for the remainder of our stay.

We stayed at the Hotel Brebant. It was central to all the major attractions. The hotel was small and not very modern. Evidently this is not the usual hotel that the tour uses. The World Cup was being played during our stay, so most of the hotels were booked way ahead of time. Luckily they were able to secure this hotel.

Here I am inside the Louvre. Can you see me standing near that giant painting? I look as big as an ant in this picture.

This is one of the many beautiful ceilings in the Palace of Versailles.

We rented headsets in order to take tours on our own time. It was much easier this way. It was so crowded and noisy in there that it would have been virtually impossible to hear our guide.

The beautiful fountain in the gardens at Versailles.

We arrived in London to rain. Here we are with our rain gear heading out for a ride on the double decker bus to the Tower of London. Thankfully only a few drizzles remained after the first day.

Visiting the Tower of London. It was interesting walking the spiral stone staircases and seeing all of the old weaponry. I kept thinking Rapunzel had to be around there somewhere.

Getting cheeky with Sir Winston Churchhill. LOL

The Sherlock Holmes Pub was a short walk from our hotel. Being really tired one evening, we opted for a fast dinner before turning in. I had fried shrimp and chips and hubby had the steak and ale pie. He had that at two different pubs while in London and he really loved it.

View of the city from the London Eye. Standing high above the city in a clear bubble made me a little bit uneasy but I tried not to think about it too much. I am uneasy at such heights.

Knock, knock, is the Queen home? Outside Buckingham Palace.

Well, this tour was very enjoyable but at the same time very exhausting. It took me several weeks to recuperate after returning home. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. I think about Europe often and hope to return sometime soon.


1 comment:

maggiegracecreates said...