A Travellerspoint blog

You Sound Like You're from London

semi-overcast 70 °F

So I have put off writing this last blog post because I have been in denial (and in a minor depressed state) about the fact that “Casey and Grace’s European Adventure” is actually over. I have been sulking around the house and refusing to even show my family the pictures from Europe since I would probably start crying. So I have gathered up all of my remaining strength to write the final blog post about London. I hope you all enjoy it and Casey and I thank each and every one of you for following our adventure!

Once Casey and I got over the fact that we had to leave Dublin, we started enjoying London. I think it was the perfect city to end on because it reminded us the most of New York City (with the added British element). We got the hang of navigating the city after trekking around with our backpacks and making it to our hotel. We were in a fabulous location (as usual remember research pays off!!). Casey and I unpacked for the last time and set off to find somewhere to wash our clothes because we were starting to smell (the perils of leaving your stuff in a backpack). We could not find a place for the life of us. Finally we stumbled upon a man who really ripped us off (7 pounds per pair of pants!!) but we had to make it work. Of course we founds about 10 laundry mats after we paid him, but that is just how it goes sometimes.

Here are a few of our iconic London pictures!

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Day one:

After we got the laundry sorted out, we headed to Abbey Road to be the annoying tourists who stop traffic to walk where the Beatles walked. Worth it? YES!!

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Then we decided to venture into the shopping area and headed to L.K. Bennett because that is apparently where Kate Middleton shops. On our way there we had some trouble because there was a Pride Parade in London right where all the shopping was. It was quite the sight to see.

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That evening we did another bike tour along the River Thames.

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Yes this is Diagon Alley

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Day two:

We started the day with another bike tour (shocking I know). We needed to see the other side of London to get our bearings.

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We then headed over to the Woseley for afternoon tea. It was such a fun experience! I want to have afternoon tea every day. There were finger sandwiches, biscuits with jam, and mini deserts. Casey and I put on our dresses and did our best to fit in.

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We ended the day by walking in St. James Park and then decided to sit down and read our books in the grass for a bit.

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Day three:

We decided to start the day with lunch at Borough Market, which has tons of small stands that sell any type of food you can imagine. It was so hard to decide what to get! I got some delectable meringue and Casey got a giant cookie.

We then headed to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, which is a replica of the original Globe Theatre. It is also a working theatre, so during our tour we were able to see the actors rehearsing for the play they were doing that night.

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We then headed to St. Paul’s Cathedral, which was breathtaking. I just can’t get enough of these churches; they are just the most beautiful pieces of architecture I have ever seen.

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Then we all but ran to (it was closing) the Tower Bridge Exhibition (the famous one, not the London Bridge). It was a neat experience!

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We had to make friends to take pictures at the top!

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That night we got all dressed up and went to see Once, the musical. Casey and I were obsessed with it. I was brought to tears multiple times. The whole audience was entranced for the entire performance.

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That night after the show we went to the local bar scene in Soho and had a few ciders and a snack before heading home.

Day four:

Casey and I got up at the crack of dawn and went to mass at St. Paul’s. We then went on a trek to find an authentic English breakfast, we started getting hungry and impatient and ended up finding a breakfast bagel place that was delicious. Then we got some delicious cappuccinos!

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Casey and I were mad women for the rest of the day. We wanted to soak up as much as we could! We went to the Tower of London to go on a tour, which was such a cool experience. There we got to see the crown jewels. I wanted to put a crown on so badly.

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The men who run the tours have to serve for 22 years!

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Then we took pictures with Big Ben.

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Afterwards we headed to Westminster Abbey to look around. It was incredibly beautiful. This was also where William and Kate were married.

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We then went to Buckingham Palace to try and find a guard to take pictures with. I think there was some kind of event going on because there were tons of important looking people in fancy hats going into the palace. Casey and I couldn’t figure it out but we figured we were in the presence of importance.

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We walked through another park and saw a pelecian almost eat a pigeon!

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Finally we went to Harrod’s to see how awesome it really was. I swear Harrod’s is like its own private world. It has a giant gourmet food court, a tea room, every designer you can imagine, and even an area for pets. Unfortunately there was absolutely nothing there we could afford except for an adorable collar for Casey’s dog Bella.

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We also made a pit stop at King’s Cross Station to find platform 9 3/4. We succeeded! It was neat to see some of the Harry Potter film sights in person.

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We headed back to the hotel to get ready for another performance and saw A Chorus Line. We had average seats then when we got there they told us we were upgraded! Casey and I ended up having fabulous seats on the fifth row in the middle. What a perfect way to end our trip!

Unfortunately, we made our flight and got back to America. The next day we all headed to the Rangers game to see some baseball and fireworks! Although we were a little jet lagged, we had a wonderful welcome back July 4th celebration.

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Casey and I will put up a farewell post soon! Be on the look out for it. Thanks again for following us!

Posted by cgeurope2013 14:08 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged london Comments (1)

Loving Lindsey

For those of you who don't know Lindsey Smith, let me tell you her story. She was in Blake's bible study group in high school and the Smith family is good friends with my family. Lindsey passed away in a car accident this past January and after she passed away Danny Oldani had purple bracelets made which said "Loving Lindsey." Lindsey loved to travel and God blessed her with the gift of seeing quite a bit of the world before bringing her home. Before Grace and I left on our trip, Linda (Lindsey's mom) gave me a few bracelets to give out on my trip. Here are the people that I shared them with.

This is Adeline, she was our waitress at a restaurant in Old Town Nice one night and was the first person that I shared Lindsey's story with. I gave her a bracelet and she was so appreciative she was almost brought to tears. She couldn't believe I wanted to give her a bracelet and after I told her Lindsey's story she immediately went over and showed her coworkers the bracelet and began telling them about it.
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This wonderful lady is Melissa from Melbourne, Australia. Grace and I took an all day cooking class while we were in Florence and we got to know a few of the people in the class, including Melissa. She is so sweet, one of the nicest people we met on our trip. She had taken this trip as a tribute to her mother who loved to travel but recently passed away. I shared Lindsey's story with her and gave her a bracelet that would continue to travel around Europe with her before going back to Australia.
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This is Carlan from Knoxville, Tennessee. We met her and her family in Paris while we were standing in the long line to go into the beautiful Sainte Chapelle. After Paris they were going to Florence and Rome before going home to Knoxville. She was a sweetheart and so full of energy and joy. She and her family gave us lots of tips about things to do when we went to London. She was so excited about the bracelet.
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These girls are Katie Leaf on the left and Megan O'Connor on the right. They are from Ontario, Canada. We met them on a walking tour of Dublin our first day there and got to be friends with them. A few days later we all went on a day trip to the west coast of Ireland to see the Cliffs of Moher, which is where I told them about Lindsey and gave them each a bracelet. After Ireland they went to Switzerland where they are working as camp counselors until September. They asked if the opportunity came up if they could pass the bracelets on and continue to share Lindsey's story at camp and I told them I thought it would be a great idea.
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I am so thankful that Linda thought to give me these bracelets to give out on my trip. It was such a blessing to be able to share them with these people as we were traveling and to see how Lindsey's story and the simple kindness of giving a bracelet to a person could touch their hearts. Today I read Linda's blog about the bracelets she gave out on her trip. Carly also gave a couple out on her trip to Africa a few weeks ago. It is amazing to think of all the places that the bracelets have and will travel to. It is like Lindsey is still getting to travel the world.

Posted by cgeurope2013 08:32 Comments (1)

The Luck of the Irish

overcast 55 °F

Ireland has been incredible. Let me tell you a few reasons why...
1. Everyone is so friendly and they speak English! While being exposed to other languages has been a great experience, its nice to be able to easily communicate with everyone again.
2. The weather is like a Texas winter...never thought I would be in jeans and a scarf in June.
3. The noise the lights make to let you walk across the street sound like a Mario Kart noise.
4. Pubs pubs pubs!

First thing we did when we got to Dublin was go to an Irish pub for a hearty lunch and a glass of apple cider (my new favorite drink!). Grace and I were both worn out from leaving Paris so early so we took a much needed nap after lunch and relaxed that evening.
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The next day we had an Irish breakfast at a pub and did a walking tour of the city. Our guide was an Irish version of Seth Rogan...he looked like him and he turned Irish history into a comedy, it was great.
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We saw Dublin Castle, the O'Connell bridge, St. Stephen's Green, and of course had a drink at a pub.
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After the tour we went to Trinity College and the Trinity College Library. The library holds the Book of Kells which is a book illustrating the four gospels that was made by monks on an island near Ireland in 800 A.D. The library itself was beautiful (especially given how much Grace and I both love to read) and the Book of Kells was incredible.
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We ended our day with a pub crawl...couldn't leave Ireland without doing one!

On Wednesday we visited Christchurch Cathedral, originally built by Vikings, and then Saint Patricks Cathedral. Afterwards we went to the Guinness Storehouse and learned how they make Guinness. We also went to an old jail (very creepy). Last on our list was the Old Jameson Distillery, which was awesome! (Grace is now a converted whiskey drinker)
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That night we went to dinner and then to yet another a pub to listen to some Irish music. Almost every pub has live music every night...resulting in lots of people who think they can Irish dance and a few who actually can. It's great craic (craic means fun)!

Our last day we took a long day trip to Galway and the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare on the west coast of Ireland. The cliffs are the tallest in Europe and are so impressive because they literally drop straight down to the ocean. For those of you who have seen The Princess Bride the "cliffs of insanity" are actually the cliffs of Moher. A scene from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was shot at the cliffs too. We got on the bus bright and early at 7am! We were only in Galway for about an hour and we wish we could have stayed longer, it is definitely somewhere I hope to go back and visit again someday. We listened to a great band on the street and saw some old castles.
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We got lunch at a pub and drove through the breathtaking countryside on our way to the cliffs. As you can tell it was quite cold!
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Unfortunately by the time we got to the cliffs a fog had settled in and we could barely see 10 feet in front of us.
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We couldn't see the cliffs as a whole but we got a few glimpses between the fog and dangled our feet off the edge of one of the cliffs (it was terrifying).
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I peeked over the edge too! Just as scary as hanging our feet off...we were about 400 feet above the ocean and it was a straight drop!
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This is what the cliffs look like without fog...
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We got back from the west coast and sadly packed up our backpacks before we went out for one more night of cider and music!

We didn't get to kiss the Blarney Stone but we blew a kiss that direction so hopefully we got a little bit of luck! Dublin is an incredible city...you should all be a slightly concerned that I'm going to pack up and move here as soon as I get home. Seriously.
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We only have one city left and we're getting very nostalgic!

Posted by cgeurope2013 05:56 Archived in Ireland Tagged dublin Comments (0)

Paris is Always a Good Idea

rain 60 °F

If Casey and I have learned anything it's Murphy's Law. I will not even draw out this past mistake trying to blame it on something other than ourselves. We missed our train to Paris. We finally made it to our hotel about 5 hours later than planned.

On another note, I was obsessed with Paris. The people we ran into really were quite welcoming and nice. People offered to help when we looked lost (of course there was the occasional line cutter but what place doesn't have that other than Texas?!). The French were so much more accommodating than we were expecting.

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The sights were also breath taking. Our time in Paris was much too short. This was the first city we had to make an itinerary the first night and strictly stick to it to be able to see all that we wanted. We ran all over that city and accomplished so much but didn't even scratch the surface of what Paris had to offer. The weather was a little drab, it rained almost the whole time, but it was still so romantic (Casey and I have basically been on the longest date haha).

Below is a brief overview of what we did, you tell me if we deserve an award or not!

Day 1:

We caught up on laundry that morning with cappuccinos in hand then headed to Shakespeare and Co. Bookstore. This is frequently pinned on Pinterest. It was a charming little bookstore right across the river from Notre Dame. It's got tons of first edition books and a homey atmosphere. People write notes about love or Paris just to let others know they were there.

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It was a great experience. We finished the day with the Fat Tire Bike Tour to get our bearings on the city and a little history. The tour ended with a boat ride along the river, with wine included. This was our first glimpse of Paris at night. I also forgot to mention that at 11 and midnight the Eiffel Tower sparkles for 5 minutes! We never missed it all the nights we were there.

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There are about a million locks on all the bridges here. Couples come and lock a lock to the bridge and throw the key into the water to prove their eternal love. I thought it was so sweet (no Casey and I didn't do one...). We did see a few combination locks and thought that kind of defeated the purpose.

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Day 2:

We started out early and tried to beat the crowd to the Louvre. We saw so much art and even got a glimpse of the Mona Lisa, the crowd was crazy to say the least. It was a giant museum, they say if you look art every painting for 30 seconds you would be there for two whole weeks!

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We than went to Sainte Chapelle which might be my favorite church so far. It had the most beautiful stained glass windows I've ever seen.

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We then headed over to Notre Dame to get a look inside, which was also beautiful (sorry for sounding redundant but I don't know how else to describe it!). The church was celebrating its 850th anniversary and added a new exhibit to see tons of relics.

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We then walked through the Luxembourg Gardens and headed to the Pantheon.

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The crypts were creepy, but it was really neat to see France's most important people's graves.

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This day also ended up being summer solstice, which means it's the longest day of the year. To celebrate there is live music EVERYWHERE!! After dinner, we ventured our and listened to a few bands.

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Day 3:

We started the day off with the L'Orangerie Museum, which holds Monet's water lily collection. Then we headed to Orsay, which was my favorite museum thus far. They focused on the impressionist era, which I especially enjoy. It was also quite a bit smaller so it was more manageable and its a converted train station.

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We then stopped my the Tuileries Gardens and strolled around before going to the Arc du Triomphe. The Arc was so much larger than I imagined, Casey and I climbed all the way to the top and had a wonderful view of the city. It was quite windy up there!

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We then looked at all the street vendors to see the local paintings. After a long day we ended with an enchanting mass at Notre Dame. The organ was haunting and entrancing. After a mouthwatering meal we ended watching the Eiffel Tower sparkle again!

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Day 4:

Casey and I woke up bright and early to head to our champagne tour. It was FABULOUS! We went to two champagne house in Champagne, France. The first was a much smaller family run business and the next was Moët Chandon, who are the makers of Dom Perignon. They were interesting to compare and contrast, naturally we loved everything we tried. A fun fact we learned was that if you taste wine or champagne from another persons glass that they have been drinking out of it smells completely different from your own glass. It was the strangest thing, Casey and I tested it out ourselves. You can get the ones in the picture below in Texas.

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After making it back into the city, we went to see the Moulin Rouge which was in a really cool area.

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After dinner with the cheesiest mash potatoes I have ever had, Casey and I headed to the Eiffel Tower one last time and went up it to get a view of the city!

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We finally crashed in bed and had to wake up about 2 hours later to head to the airport. It was a packed city but every minute was worth it!

On a side note...

Sorry for the delay on this post! We actually just got done with Dublin, but our accommodations had extremely slow wifi so it prevented us from updating! Dublin will be up soon! We arrived safely to London with no major hiccups. We will be back to Texas before we know it. And as much as we miss our loved ones, it will be hard to leave Europe. We've officially got the travel bug. Until next time!

Another side note...

Instead of complaining about the stairs, Casey and I decided to take pictures of the prettiest ones. Here are the winners thus far:

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Posted by cgeurope2013 10:48 Archived in France Tagged paris Comments (0)

I Amsterdam

sunny 68 °F

We finally arrived in Amsterdam after a 19 hour train ride!
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Grace and I dropped our bags off at our hostel near the red light district and went out to explore. We stumbled upon bloemenmarkt, which is an entire street of flower markets on one of the canals. That evening we met up with some friends from Sweden that we met in Prague.
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We only had one full day in Amsterdam so we had a lot to do in a very short time. We embarked on a bike tour of the city and learned about Amsterdam's history (apparently everything comes from Amsterdam) and saw five of the different neighborhoods. It is beautiful there with all the canals, bridges, and skinny houses. Most of the houses are actually crooked too.
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Ann Frank's house is in Amsterdam as well. The annex where she and 7 other people hid for two years was behind her father's old office, there is a bookshelf hiding the door. We toured the house and got to walk through the annex and see where they were hiding. It was an incredible experience and really moving to stand in the actual rooms they stayed in.
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That evening we went to a jazz club as recommended by our tour guide.

Grace and I had some time the next day before we had to leave for Paris so we went to the Heineken Brewery. They showed us how beer is brewed, taught us about the different ingredients, and of course let us taste it! We saw the room where the fermenting tanks are and watched the beer get bottled.
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It was time to catch our 3:30 train so we picked our bags up from the hostel and made our way to the train station. We were doing great on time...then I checked the departure boards and it showed that our train left at 3:19, not 3:30. It was about 3:18 and once again, time to run. We sprinted through the station to our platform and yes, you guessed it...we missed our train. I suppose we did a pretty good job since this is the first one during our whole trip that we have actually missed. It was an expensive mistake but we made it to Paris only two hours later than expected!
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We are in Dublin now, Grace will update you on Paris soon!

Posted by cgeurope2013 06:33 Archived in Netherlands Tagged amsterdam Comments (0)

Czech Us Out

Prague

sunny 75 °F

Today is mine and Grace's last day in Prague! We have had an amazing time. Prague is one of the only cities that didn't get bombed in World War II so being here is like stepping back in time.
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On Wednesday we decided to start off with the Prague castle tour. We walked across the bridge to the castle district and the Strahov Monastery, where monks have been brewing beer since the 17th century. It's up higher than the rest of the city so we had an amazing view of all of Prague below us.
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We walked through the castle courtyard and went in St. Vitus Cathedral as well, which is the cathedral that stands tall over all of the castle district.
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After the tour we went to a Czech restaurant and tried Czech beer, it was good but not quite as good as German beer!
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We also wrote on the John Lennon wall. We didn't have any markers or paint so Grace asked a stranger if we could buy their extra...thankfully they said yes!
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The next day we did the walking tour of Old Town Prague and the Jewish Quarter. We saw the famous Astronomical clock that comes to life every hour (it was not nearly as impressive as we expected, but it was made in the 14th century so it was a really big deal at the time). In the Jewish Quarter we saw the Old Jewish Cemetery, which used to be the only place in Prague that Jews could be buried so the graves are up to 7 layers deep in some places.
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Grace and I had dinner at a restaurant called Renomme that night. It's a tiny little restaurant near the river. We had duck foie gras for an appetizer. It was almost like a pate, I was really scared to try it but I did and it was to die for. We also had a Czech Pinot Noir that we loved. That night we went on a pub crawl with a couple girls we had met on the castle tour the day before.

We also played with some marionettes!
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On Friday we went to brunch at Cafe Colore (finally a place that served good scrambled eggs for breakfast!) and started off our day with a walk across the Charles Bridge. It used to be the only bridge that went over the river. Its flanked by two beautiful almost fairy tale like towers and has an amazing view of the castle.
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We walked down the Golden Lane, a row of tiny little colorful houses built into the wall of Prague Castle.
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Today we tried to go back to the Jewish Cemetery and Museum but it was closed. Hopefully we can go tomorrow before we leave! Instead we went to a toy museum that had a collection of Barbies dating all the way back to the first one in 1959. It was so fun!
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Tomorrow night we catch the overnight train to Amsterdam. We arrive Monday morning, hopefully we will be able to get some sleep on the train!

Posted by cgeurope2013 11:00 Archived in Czech Republic Tagged prague Comments (4)

Marvelous Munich

And Sound of Music Salzburg

sunny 67 °F

I think Casey and I are in love with Munich. It was so very hard to leave. It was our favorite city this far.

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Our first night we want to the beer garden for a late dinner and naturally a beer. It was called the Chinese tower (random), in the English gardens. Then we decided to call it a night (those beers were huge!) and get up early the next day.

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Bright and early the next morning we decided to go on a Neuschwanstein Castle Tour. This castle was the one that Walt Disney based the sleeping beauty castle off of. The castle was built by King Ludwig II, whose nickname was "Mad King Ludwig" (he was a gay, lonely king who lived in solitude and died under mysterious circumstances). The castle was never completed and only 16 of the 60 rooms were finished. The castle was about two hours outside of Munich so after we arrived we took a bike ride to Swan Lake at the base of the mountain on which the castle was built. I put my feet in but it was too cold to go for a swim.

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I forgot to mention that the weather was PERFECT we couldn't have had any better conditions. We got so lucky because they had some serious rain and it was considered the coldest May and June since they could remember. Which spurred Casey and I to say yes to paragliding on a whim. We took the gondola up to the top of the mountain where we had an incredible view of Bavarian Alps. We both got strapped in and jumped off the side of the mountain which was 5000 feet up in the air. Talk about an adrenaline rush! Once we were up there it was so very peaceful, almost like a casual bike ride. My guide had some serious faith in me and let me fly for a few minutes then we did some crazy tricks! The view was breathtaking.

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Then we went on a hike through the gorge and up to the castle. Again it was so very beautiful, we think it beat Cinque Terre. We finally made it up to the castle. The castle is owned by the Bavarian government so the tour was strictly run and the guides stuck to a script. They wouldn't even let us take pictures! We were only in there for 27 minutes, but it was worth it. The castle was so ornate and had tons of murals on every wall.

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After we got back to the hostel, we decided to do a pub crawl. Our guide was a choir teacher from Dallas, he was quite a character. We went to Augustiner Keller beer garden, which was the best one in Munich where a lot of the locals go. Then we went to Lowenbrau beer hall where Casey tried a dunkels (dark beer) that she ended up really liking. The last stop was a cocktail bar, where Casey and I had enough sense to stick to beer. We had a feeling the rest of our group didn't get out of bed for a while the next morning. We finally made it back to the hostel.

The next day we did a bike tour of the city, we had a hilarious tour guide. The tour started at Marienplatz, the city center, then saw a few more sights and stopped for lunch at the Chinese Tower beer garden. Afterwards we rode though the English Gardens and down to the Isar River. Then later that night we went to dinner, ate some bratwurst, and met up with some new friends at Havana Bar, which had some fabulous cocktails.

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We also took a day trip to Salzburg, Austria. We had to get up at 5 am to catch a train. We did the Fräulein Maria Bike Tour so we could see all of The Sound of Music sights. We sang and ran in fields and everything. It was so fun and very beautiful. Although, I did get stung by a wasp which sucked. We made it back to Germany and had some of the best German food at Augustiner Restaurant. Our waiter was adamant about what was the best on the menu and we were glad we listened because it was amazing.

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Casey and I are now in Prague trying to decide if we want to do a castle tour or a city bike tour today. Since currently that is our biggest problem, I'd say we have it made. We will update about Prague in a few days!

Posted by cgeurope2013 03:39 Archived in Germany Tagged salzburg munich Comments (1)

Fabulous Florence

sunny 68 °F

Overall, I'm in love with Florence. But naturally it did not start out that way. Keeping in line with the rest of our trip, we found humor in our situation but it took a solid 24 hours before we laughed.

We traveled the trains like veterans with no problems. The story comes from the "flat" we were supposed to stay in. This place made Joanna and her creepy oil paintings seem like a safe haven. The flat we rented off air B and B and the guy was supposed to meet us to give us the key couldn't make it so he gave us the number of his friend. We met him in a slightly sketchy area where the flat was and he took us inside and up to the flat. He gave us a quick 5 min tour and spoke in so fast and in a thick Italian accent that we could barely understand what he said. When he left we absorbed our situation. The flat was dirty, cluttered, and smells like rotten cabbage. The "shower" was basically a drain and a hose. That was the last straw for Casey and I. We frantically called the dream makers (aka parents for those of you who did not read our first post) and they told us to get out of there. So we lost about 150 euro after canceling and started searching for a new place. We found a decent hostel and had to share a room with two boys for a night (which we will also never do again) and then ended up with a fabulous private room. It even had a proper shower (and it was big for Europe). Needless to say the debacle put us in a slightly frustrated mood.

We finally found our groove in Florence and visited the Duomo, the academia (too see David), Ufitizzi, and the Boboli Gatdens. The Dulmo might have been my favorite church so far.

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We also got to do a fabulous wine your in Tuscany. We went to two wineries in the Cianti region and learned so much about wine. We also got to sample olive oil and Grappa (which was not so good). We also went to a butcher who apparently has a cooking show in America. All of it was wonderful!

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We also did a cooking class and learned how to make pasta from scratch! The group for that was so fun and we had a blast.

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We also did a bit of shopping...

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One of the best places we went to eat was a place called ZaZa. Most of their stuff had truffles in it, so I was already on board.

We made it to Munich smoothly and are currently on our way to a Castle! So very excited!

We promise to give you another update soon!

Cheers for now from Munich!

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Posted by cgeurope2013 11:21 Archived in Italy Tagged florence Comments (2)

Manuel's Guesthouse in Monterosso, Italy

Where the stairs never end

sunny 70 °F

We arrived in beautiful Monterosso, Italy 4 days ago and we haven't posted since because we've been in paradise. It is the most amazing place I have ever been. We stayed at Manuel's Guesthouse, a little pink guesthouse that you have to climb about 130 steps up to get to...totally worth it for the amazing view. The people who run it are so nice as well...Lorenzo (who is extremely attractive) and his dad Gio (who speaks almost no English). Our friend Gio has made us the best cappuccinos and breakfast to enjoy on our patio overlooking the water...leaps and bounds better than Joanna's breakfast of hard boiled eggs.
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For dinner we went to La Barcaccia Pizzeria and sat next to four crazy older Irish women. They were hilarious and we became fast friends with them. They gave us lots of tips on what to do in Dublin and taught us to say "Deadly Bulls" and "where's the craic?!"...craic means fun.

We went hiking on the trails through the mountains and along the cliffs between the towns. The views were picturesque (we had to start coming up with synonyms for beautiful because we were sounding redundant). All the way up the mountains vineyards, olives, and other plants are growing. It's incredible. Exhausting but incredible.
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On our second day hike we found ourselves singing "these are the stairs that never end...they just go on and on my friend..." According to this man made map we were almost there. False. The map was not to scale and we had almost 2 more hours.
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Needless to say we took advantage of our ritual siesta almost every day we were here.
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Our friends from A&M that we met up with in Barcelona were also in Cinque Terre so we had dinner with them one night. We went to L'Ancora della Tortuga, a restaurant built into the mountain and overlooking the water (the boys wanted a view of the sunset). While we confirmed that almost nobody enjoys anchovies, we enjoyed a fabulous meal with Chianti wine and great company.
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We knew we were going to love the food in Italy, so just in case any of you decide to come to Monterosso we feel inclined to tell you about one more place you must stop to eat. Il Casello, an outdoor restaurant right on the water. Order the seafood risotto.
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We are off the Florence next!

Posted by cgeurope2013 02:03 Archived in Italy Tagged terre cinque Comments (2)

Nice is nice!

sunny 68 °F

Bonjour!

Surprisingly we made it to Nice with no problems! It was already dark though and we had traveled by train for well over 12 hours. We were exhausted. Then we walked about a mile to our hotel and we were a little discouraged to find that Nice was so quiet. Of course nothing is quite the same at night as it is during the day. We arrived at hotel Cronstadt, a rather creepy bed and breakfast run by a French couple. Joanna reminds me of a grouchy grandma. She had so many rules and is quite controlling. There are creepy oil paintings of her and her husband in the main room. We ventured out and found an average Italian meal, then went back to sleep.

The next morning we woke up to breakfast made by Joanna, once again disappointed. We had to sit under the creepy oil paintings silently while we drank bad coffee and ate a hard boiled egg. She is such a strange lady, it was an awkward breakfast to say the least. Casey and I were considering getting on a train to anywhere at that point. We decided to venture out anyway and were pleasantly surprised. We walked down promenade du anglais to old town. There was a market set up in the middle of the street with tons of fresh fruit and flowers. The street is also lined with restaurants with almost all outdoor seating.

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From the market we went to Chateau du Colline, an old fortress/castle/park that towers above Nice. We walked up to the very top and had a breathtaking view of the entire city, we even caught a glimpse of the French alps. Finally, after all those stairs, we hit the beach, and ordered a mimosa!

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After our ritual siesta, we got ready for dinner and headed back down the promenade which was transformed from the market to intimate outdoor seating for all of the restaurants. It was beautiful and romantic. So Casey and I had ourselves a little date at a magnifico little seafood place called La Grande Voile. We had caprese, seafood linguini, creme brûlée, and wine. Now when I mentioned intimate seating I really mean it. You are literally brushing elbows with the people next to you. When we finished our first bottle these older Russian men who had been at the formula one races all day ordered us another bottle. We had no idea what they were doing at the time because we don't speak Russian or French. A bit of a disadvantage. One of them claimed to be a race car driver, I'm still skeptical. We had our obligatory glass of wine and made polite conversation then corked our wine, paid, and ran before they knew what hit them. We took the almost full bottle down to the beach and finished it on the shore, quite a few other people had our same idea.

We made it back to the creepy hotel and are still alive so that's a plus. As for today, we did almost exactly the same thing except had a much more pleasing breakfast of omelets, croissants, and lots of coffee. And we rented chairs to tan on instead of just towels on the rocks (I forgot to mention that the beaches don't have sand but tons of smooth rocks instead). The market that was full of flowers was a flea market today. We also got some delicious macaroons on our walk home. We are about to head down to dinner and hopefully we don't run into the Russians again.

Overall Nice was very nice and relaxing, but it was well covered in our two days here. We've decided to leave creepy (but well meaning) Joanna and head to Cinque Terre a day early. Out train leaves at 10 tomorrow morning!

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Until next time!

Posted by cgeurope2013 11:20 Archived in France Tagged nice Comments (1)

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