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Italy Trip 2011

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Italy Trip 2011 - Page Text Content

S: Italy and Mediterranean trip 2011

FC: Our Italy Trip and Mediterranean Cruise 2011

1: In January of 2011 my best friend, Linsey, moved to Russia for six months. I wanted to travel the world, so we started making plans for me to go spend two weeks with her in April. By the second week of February I had already gotten my passport and was in the process of getting a Russian visa. My great uncle Mike had lived and worked in Russia for about 13 years, so I knew he would have a lot of valuable information for me. In late February me, Luke, and, my parents had dinner with Mike and his wife, Bonnie, to discuss my upcoming trip. He gave me a lot of tips, mostly what not to do. Everyone seemed more comfortable with me going to see Linsey. Luke, however, was not. As soon as we were alone he told me he DID NOT want me to go. He said he would take me anywhere else in the world if I would cancel my trip. I agreed, and instantly went to work trying to decide where we would go instead. I asked him if he had a preference, he said not really. So after a short discussion, we agreed on a Mediterranean Cruise. I had to do a bit of convincing to get him to agree to let us spend time in Rome too, but he eventually said it would be fine. Within three days I booked our cruise and started planning the rest of the trip around it. I saved every extra penny to pay for the cruise and our flights, I refused to put them on a credit card. By the time the trip actually came around, I had been planning it for 8 months. At times it had felt like it would never get here. But when it, did I was more excited than I had ever been for anything else in my life. This is the story of the trip of my dreams....

2: Ready to go at 5am!

3: On Tuesday, November 8, 2011 we were up at 4:15am so we could get to the airport on time. My mom drove us to the airport so we didn't have to leave the car for two weeks. We got to the airport at about 6:20am. We thanked my mom for the ride, hugged her, and told her we would see her in two weeks. It only took us a few minutes to get checked in and through security, so we were to our flight gate by 6:30am. We got some breakfast and settled in for our two hour wait. We hadn't even finished our breakfast when we saw the notice that our flight had been delayed. About an hour later Delta called me to tell me the news and inform us that we would now have a 24-hour layover in Atlanta. That was NOT going to work for us! I called Delta back to see what options we had. They told me that there weren't any alternatives at that point, but they would work on it for us. About an hour later I was paged to the desk at the gate and they informed me that we would be re-routed to the JFK Airport in New York, and fly to Rome from there. Our flight to NYC would leave at 11:13am, so we had 2 and-a-half more hours to wait. Delta gave us $12 in meal vouchers so we could get some lunch; I thought that was nice. I was so grateful that we were going to be able to get to Rome about the same time as planned. We only had three days in Rome and I was NOT about to give one up! Even with the delay and being re-routed, we were going to land in Rome only about two hours later than originally planned.

4: We found the new gate and waited there. During that wait we met some people who were traveling to Dublin, Ireland. The man was from there and the wife was from Idaho. They were very nice. It was really interesting visiting with them. I always think its fun to meet new people. Five hours after arriving at the SLC Airport, we were FINALLY on a plane and on our way! These are pictures of NYC as we were getting ready to land. Our seats were not by the window, but the man sitting in the window seat was nice enough to take a few pictures for me.

5: After we landed in NYC we made our way through the airport to our next gate. We each had a backpack and a carry-on, so we were loaded down. In Salt Lake they assured us that our luggage would be transferred according to our new flight schedule, so our minds were at ease about that. We knew this was going to be a long flight, so we walked around the airport for a little while. We exchanged our American dollars for Euros. Luke found the Oakley Sunglass store and bought himself a pair. We also found a Chili's and decided to get some dinner to take on the plane. We knew that they would serve dinner on the plane, but we had no idea what that would be like. We ordered and paid for our food, they told us it would be about a ten minute wait. About 5 minutes into that wait we heard, over the loud speaker, "Final Boarding call for flight #246 for Rome." We looked at each other and about panicked! There was NO way we were missing that flight!! Luke sent me to the gate and told me he would be right behind me. I took off for the gate, hoping that I would see Luke in just a couple minutes. I got to the gate and handed over my boarding pass. They asked for my passport, which was still in my backpack. I dropped all my stuff and started the hunt for the passports. I found the passports and gave them to the lady at the gate. She handed it back and told me that I needed to sign it, she also handed me a pen. I signed my passport and handed it back to her. Just then Luke got to the gate. He handed the lady his boarding pass, I handed him his passport and told him to sign it. He did so, and then handed it over too. Finally, everything was in order and the lady handed us back our passports and boarding passes. I tucked our documents back inside my backpack and we headed down the jetway. Just as we were about to step onto the plane we were asked, again, for all of our documents! I dropped my backpack and dug them back out. We finally made it to our seats and both breathed a sigh of relief; we had made it!

6: This was the dinner they served on our flight. I told Luke to get us one to share just so we could try it out! It consisted of: a green salad, chicken and pasta in marinara sauces, a small piece of cheese, a mini loaf of bread and butter, and a brownie. It really wasn't too bad. I was kind of impressed. | Our seats were right over the wing. This was the first time either of us had ever been on a 767 Plane. It was REALLY big.

7: Luke was able to sleep during the flight, but I was too excited. I don't think I got an entire hour of sleep during our 8 hour flight.!@ We got to see the sunrise from the sky. It was such an incredible view. I felt like we were flying through a world of pink cotton candy. These pictures do not do it justice.

8: 2012 | This is the breakfast they served. There was a hot breakfast sandwich, juice, and a banana. They also included a hot towel to freshen up with.

9: Our first glimpse of ITALY | We were so happy to finally be landing in Italy. I was ready to be off the plane and have space to move. I'm sure Luke felt the same way.

10: We made it off the plane and to Customs. This was new for both of us. It seemed to take forever, but we eventually got through without any problems. They asked for our passports, but did not stamp them. I thought that was strange, but again, this was our first time, so we assumed it was normal. | After Customs, we went to find our luggage. There were about ten luggage carousels in that airport. We were able to read the information boards, but none of them listed our flight. So we searched every one of those carousels...and could not find our luggage!! | I was getting SO frustrated. I didn't want to be stuck in that airport for one more minute! Luke was doing his best to keep me calm. We spoke with the Delta Representative and were told that our luggage had not arrived, it was last seen in SLC! That was NOT what I wanted to hear. They took our information and told us that our luggage would be delivered to our hotel when it arrived-hopefully tomorrow.

11: By this time I was pretty cranky. We had a few options to get into the city of Rome. We could take a direct train, a cab, or a bus. We weren't sure what was the best option. I was leaning toward taking a train, but we didn't know how far the station was from our hotel. Luke started talking to a taxi driver who told him he could take us right to our hotel. I reluctantly agreed. We followed the driver out of the airport, across the street, and into a parking garage. He lead us to a blue Ford Focus, and put our bags in the back. Luke and I got into the back seat and off we went. It was about a 30 minute ride from the airport to the city. I was getting a little scared because I knew to be very cautious about unmarked taxis...and that's exactly what we were in! Not only was it unmarked, it was also without a meter. I was really proud of my husband at this point. On top of all of that, the driver was driving like a maniac. But so was everyone on the road!! It was terrifying and we were both wondering if we would survive this! | As we got into the city, the driver told me to get out my camera and be ready to take pictures. One of the first things we were able to see was the Colosseum. I couldn't believe my eyes. We were actually in ROME!

12: We arrived at our hotel. Hotel Sonya, with our lives and stomaches in tact-barely. We got out of the car and the driver told us our fare: 70 Euros. I about died, we only had about 450 Euros for the entire trip. But we only had one choice: pay the driver, and that's exactly what Luke did. We thanked the driver, got our bags and walked in to our hotel. It was beautiful. I felt like I really was living a dream. I found the hotel through the Rick Steves books we had. I didn't want to stay in a big chain hotel, I wanted our trip to be more authentic. | The staff at the hotel was very nice. They took our passports when we checked in, and told us we could pick them up the next day. We weren't alarmed; we were expecting this. Once we were checked in, a bellboy took our bags and showed us to our room. We were on the fourth floor, so we took the elevator. Elevators in Italy are like the elevators in the 1930s were in the USA:very small and kind of scary! | These books were our bibles/survival guides. We wouldn't have made it through the trip without them.

13: The room was very clean and tidy. The floor was tile, not carpet, throughout the whole room. The room was decent in size. The bathroom was pretty big. The shower was kind of small. There was a toilet and bidet, which was a little surprising to me. But that just goes to show how sheltered we can be! And the thing that looks like a phone on the wall is actually the blow dryer. | In ROME, at last! | This is the light switch and the electrical outlet.

14: Since we only had three days in Rome, and so much to see, we wasted no time getting out to see the sights. I only let us rest and refresh for about an hour. We decided to start with the Colosseum, and we knew we could walk to it from our hotel. We got directions from the front desk, and headed on our way. It was mid-afternoon by this time. Luke had no problem navigating through the city, even though the streets weren't straight and intersected at odd angles. We had been walking for about twenty or thirty minutes and were almost there. But just as we were almost close enough to see the Colosseum, my camera battery started to die. I told Luke we had to go back to the room and get the other battery because there was NO way I was going to the Colosseum without my camera! So we turned around and walked back to the hotel. Within an hour we were back to the bottom of Cavour, at that last turn before the Colosseum was in view.

15: I was fascinated by all of the buildings in Rome. They were all different colors and so beautiful. | This is part of what remains of the Ancient Roman Aqueduct System.

16: The Colosseum | It almost took my breath away as we were walking to it. It was even bigger than it looked from the taxi. I could hardly believe we were really here.

18: These are some of the artifacts that have been found at the Colosseum. Luke really liked the lamps.

19: These are some of the ruins of the Roman Forum. | These were all taken at the Colosseum. | This is the Arch of Constantine. It was built in 315AD to commemorate the acceptance of Christianity in Rome.

20: Nothing has ever made me feel so tiny. The Colosseum is incredible. Seeing it from the outside is breathtaking, but actually being inside it is unreal. It's hard to wrap my mind around the fact that something so big and complex was built without modern tools or technology. I would have loved to spend more time at the Colosseum, but it closes at dusk and we ran out of sunlight.

21: good eats | This was our first meal in Rome. I had Alfredo and Luke had Spaghetti. I was so surprised that they served the pasta like this. They didn't bring us plate to eat off of, we just ate it out of the pan! That was a first for both of us. This food was AMAZING! I have never had such good Alfredo. I really liked the peas in it. | After dinner we went back to our hotel to see if our bags had arrived yet. They hadn't. We were both so tired that we just went to bed. The bed in our room was hard as a rock, but we fell asleep so fast we hardly noticed. | On our way to dinner we called home to let them know we had arrived safely. My mom was very happy to hear from us.

22: We were so exhausted we slept for over 13 hours! We even missed breakfast at the hotel that morning. Our luggage had STILL not arrived, but I had packed our carry-ons knowing that could happen. We knew we had a lot to see and do for our day two, so we decided to get breakfast on the way. We planned to go to the Vatican Museum, St. Peter's Square, and do "The Night Walk", which included the Trevi Fountain. | The Vatican City is on the other side of Rome, so we decided to take the train. Much to our surprise, the train station was LESS than a 5-minute walk from our hotel!! It took us a while to figure out the train station, but we finally asked for help. We got our tickets and followed the signs. They were leading us down, deep under the city. I thought we would be to the center of the Earth if we had gone down two more flights of stairs. | Luke could not believe how many people were in the train station, let alone the whole city. The Metro ride was a new experience for both of us, but not a bad one. We got off at the Ottaviano stop and found a small pastry shop to get something to eat. I had a yummy apple pastry and Luke just got a drink. We are both Pepsi drinkers, but this shop only had Coke, so we made due. As we made our way to the Vatican City Wall, the streets were lined with people selling Private All English-Speaking tours of the Vatican Museum. I felt confident that we did not need a tour guided because I had studied my Rick Steves books. But on the last street to cross before the Vatican City Luke started talking to one of the salesmen. Within a few minutes Luke was convinced that a private tour was the way to go! Again, I reluctantly agreed to what Luke thought was a good idea!

23: This is part of our tour group as we walked along the Eastern wall of the Vatican City to the Museum.

24: We started our tour in the Pinecone Courtyard. Our tour guide explained The Sistine Chapel to us here because talking and photos are not allowed inside the chapel. Our tour guide was wonderful, she had a lot of information to share with us, but kept it very entertaining. She made sure we saw everything, she pointed out the artwork on the walls, floors, and ceilings. She also explained that the ceilings were painted to look three-dimensional, but they were completely flat. That was pretty impressive to see.

26: They say that you could spend 8 hours in the Vatican Museum and still not see everything, so our tour guide just showed us the "important" and well known stuff. After the tour was over we had the option to stay inside the museum and see more of it on our own.That's exactly what we planned to do because our tour did not include the Egyptian Room. I had read about it in my Rick Steves book and was most excited to see that room. So we said thank you and left our tour to find it. We found it pretty quick, but it was LOCKED!! We asked a guard when it would be open again and he said, "In the morning." I turned to Luke and said, "I guess we're coming back tomorrow!" After the Sistine Chapel but before the locked room Luke had said, "The museum is a once in a lifetime experience." At that time, little did he know we would see it twice! | This sculpture is called "The Wine Boy." It is one of he few remaining sculptures to have he crystal eyes. | These are some of the Tapestries that lined the walls in some of the halls. They date back to Michael Angelo's time. | Luke and I agree: the Sistine Chapel is amazing. It takes your breath away. You literally walk in to a Masterpiece. | This is the Hall of maps. These are all fresco paintings done about 1500 AD and are over 80% accurate by today's technology.

27: LUNCH TIME! | We found a little cafe right outside the museum. We decided to try Italian pizza this time. It was different from American pizza, but still very yummy. Again, all we could find was Coke. I found it interesting that they had Coca-Cola Light, not Diet Coke. | Next stop: Gelato I was so excited to try Italian Ice Cream. As we were walking to St. Peter's Square, we stopped at a small Gelatoria. They had so many flavor so choose from. Luke got caramel and I got Berry, Cookies and Creme, and Banana. It was love at first bite | I bought this darling hat because my hair was wavy and kind of frizzy. My straightener wouldn't work in Rome. | Turns out police in Rome are a lot like the people in a small town, they just stop in the middle of the road to talk.

28: We made it to St. Peter's Square and Basilica. We hung out in the Square and finished our gelato, but chose to not go inside the Basilica because the line was long and we had a lot still to see. The Pope lives in one of these apartments overlooking the Square.

29: This is the kind of pictures I get when I let Luke hold the camera!

30: We took the Metro to the stop near the Trevi Fountain and then began trying to navigate through the city again. I never would have found anything without Luke! | We kept our water bottles full thanks to the fountains everywhere. | I wanted to see the Trevi Fountain at night. It is lit up so beautifully. Our timing was going to be perfect at the pace we were going.

31: I could hardly believe we were here. I had always wanted to see the Trevi Fountain. Actually being there almost made me cry. It was so beautiful, and even more incredible than I had ever imagined.

32: The last sight to see for the night was the Pantheon. It is the most well preserved Ancient Roman structure because it has been in continuous use since it was completed in 126 AD. | This is the Oculus. It was the only source of light when the Pantheon was built. The sun shines directly into it only one day of the year: Summer Solstice. | Luke Andersen, Master Navigator | The Tomb of Raphael

33: We stopped for diner on our way back to the hotel. I wanted to keep our trip authentic, so I wouldn't let us eat at any "Americanized" places. La Base looked appealing from the outside, but once we were inside I realized it was more Americanized than we had thought, but the menu items were mostly Italian. The food was really good there too. Luke bought me some roses at dinner, what a gentleman he is When we got back to the hotel our bags had FINALLY arrived! Neither of us have ever been so happy to see luggage. We were exhausted again, we had walked almost ten miles. For the second night in a row, we slept like rocks and didn't mind how hard the bed was!

34: We were up early enough for breakfast on our third day in Rome. I had my first Italian cappuccino and tried a bunch of different breakfast foods. Luke played it safe with cold cereal, juice, and an orange. | I had listed everything I wanted to see before the trip, and we had a lot to fit in to our last day in Rome. We decided to start at the Vatican Museum in the Egyptian Room, and work our way back across the city.

35: I was so excited to see the Egyptian Room that I was almost running once we got inside the museum. | Much to my surprise there wasn't just one Egyptian Room, there were MANY. I wasted no time finding the mummies. They were the main attraction for me.

37: I thought it would be fun to try to pose like the statues, so I begged Luke to do it. He was a pretty good sport about it, until I started laughing. The picture on the right is blurry because I was laughing so hard.

38: The Spanish Steps completed in 1629 This i a very popular hang out for young romantics. | The Sinking Boat Fountain, built in 1629

39: As we made our way to Piazza Novana we detoured a bit to see the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon in the daylight. | This shopping district in one of the most expensive in the world. It is just across the street from the Spanish Steps.

40: There are three fountains in this piazza: Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, Fontana del Moro, and the Fountain of Neptune. | Piazza Novana | Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi built in 1651, is topped by an Egyptian Obelisk

41: Fontana del Moro built in 1575 | Fountain of Neptune built in 1574 | This square was very busy and crowded. There were a lot of street vendors, mostly artists waiting to sale their work. We watched a man doing spray paint art, it was REALLY neat. He created the most amazing paintings using only the spray paint, stencils, and a few tools. Despite how busy it was, Luke said this was his favorite place in Rome.

42: We saw a lot of beautiful buildings on our way to the Victor Emmanuel Monument to see "Rome from the Sky" | I couldn't believe this bus was going to a stop named Andersen!

43: The Victor Emmanuel Monument | Halfway up the stairs... | By the time we got to the top of the stairs we had lost count of how many there were, but we think it was somewhere around 138! | Then we took an elevator to the top of this...

44: on top of | the world | "Rome from

45: seeing the city from above | the Sky"

46: Inside the Victor Emmanuel Museum

47: There were more street artists outside the Monument. We watched another spray paint artist and bought one of his paintings for 10 Euro. This man was carving all sorts of things out of wax, but I thought it was carrots at first! | For our last dinner in Rome we ate at a fancy little restaurant not too far from our hotel. I had Lasagna and Luke had Spaghetti again. After dinner we got more Gelato then went back to the room and straight to bed. We'd had another long day of walking.

48: We got up early and went to the train station. We didn't want to risk anything going wrong. So we got our bags all packed up and lugged all of our stuff to the station. We each had a backpack, a carry-on, and a big wheeled bag. We were an hour and a half early, but we knew we wouldn't miss our train! Along the way we met a nice couple from Scotland. They had a lot of info to share with us about Venice. They were so surprised to learn that this was our first train ride! We were on one of the fastest trains in Europe. It took just under 4 hours to get from Rome to Venice.

49: We could see our cruise ship from the causeway on the train. We had no problem getting from the train station to the cruise port, thanks to Luke's superior navigation skills. It wasn't easy to wheel our suitcases on these sidewalks. | VENICE

50: Our ship, the Costa Victoria | St. Mark's Square from the ship as we sailed through the Giudecca Canal

51: Our first day on the ship we got up early enough for breakfast, but then went back to our room because we were both feeling a little queasy. We ended up sleeping all day and missed going ashore in Ancona, Italy. I woke up as they said over the loudspeaker, "Now leaving Ancona, Italy." I ran up to the deck and snapped a few pictures before it was completely out of sight. | We wanted a little treat after dinner, so we found these in the gift shop. They tasted a little bit different from the Kit-Kats at home.

52: Our second day on the ship was a day at sea. We just hung out, had some ice cream, and cleaned sunglasses. We watched the sunset that evening, it was beautiful to see a sunset while at sea.

53: This was our first Gala Night. I was really excited to dress up so fancy, Luke on the other hand, was not. He looked so handsome, I don't know why he was dreading it. I was honored to have him as my date.

54: ATHENS | Right outside the port there were dozens of taxi drivers waiting for all of the tourists. After the last experience we had with a taxi, I refused to get into another one. I had my Rick Steves book and I was headed to the train station. But along the way Luke stopped and started talking to one of the drivers. His name was Harry and he offered to show us the entire city, he could be our tour guide. I said no and kept walking. Luke called me back to talk to the driver. After a few minutes I gave in, again, but told Harry I just wanted him to take us to the Acropolis. He agreed, so we got into his taxi. It was a yellow Mercedes with leather interior and it was VERY clean. I liked Harry a little more already! We made a quick stop for a photo overlooking the port, and another photo and prayer at a Greek Orthodox Church. We were warming up to Harry pretty fast, and eventually decided to have him show us the entire city. The next stop was the Olympic Stadium built for the first modern Olympic games.

55: Then we were on to the "Balcony of Athens." That was a beautiful view. | Next, Harry took us to see the guards. They walk slowly, with a long stretched stride. We were ok to get a picture with one, but we couldn't touch him. | After that, Harry took us to the Temple of the Olympian Zeus. I made Luke pick up piece of granite for a tiny souvenir. He was sure we would end up in jail over it!

56: The Parthenon

57: The Parthenon was incredible. I never imagined I would see it with my own eyes. There was so much history everywhere we looked.

58: Then it was time for lunch. Harry insisted that we have a traditional Greek lunch, so he took us to a little restaurant. | The next place to see was the New Acropolis Museum. It is built over an excavation site and some of the floor is glass so visitors can see what is going on. | I had my camera ready to take pictures of everything, and then the guards told me no photos were allowed inside the museum. That embarrassed Luke a little! | We started with a delicious salad... | Then grilled shrimp... | Next came the Sea Bass Luke had chosen... | And finally, dessert with ouzo. | We were talking about how good our lunch was when they brought us the bill. We both about had a heart attack when we saw the total...89Euro, which equals about $140!! | Then it was time to part ways. We thanked Harry and said good-bye. We were very impressed with the tour we had gotten of the city . (Good job Luke!)

59: Every night on the ship they had a "Midnight Snack" that was served about 10pm. This night the snack was chocolate dipped fruit. After our routine trips to the Pizzeria and Internet Café to email our families after dinner, we had some time to kill. So, naturally, when I'm bored and Luke has had enough of playing Phase 10, I get out my camera. Luke was a good sport about it this time. These are some of my favorite pictures from the trip because we were just having fun and being silly.

60: MYKONOS | We had a cold and cloudy day here. Mykonos is famous for its windmills. We saw the sights and headed straight back to the ship. It was too cold to hang out on the beach or anything like that.We didn't even spend any money in Mykonos!

62: All of the buildings in Mykonos are white-washed. The doors, shutters, and windows are the only things painted different colors.

63: This bird was just walking around town like a tourist

65: They call this spot "Little Venice" because it's built right on the water

66: Finally, we had some sun! We debated staying aboard to just enjoy it, but quickly decided to go ashore and explore the city of Corfu, Greece. We only had a few hours on land, so we headed for the Old Town and NewFortress.

67: They have Pizza Hut... | And they deliver on Mopeds! | We were grateful for the English on the signs | There were a lot of neat little shops in the Old Town, once we figured out where it was! | Half of this building was just gone...

68: We hiked up to New Fortress to enjoy the breathtaking view. We could see the entire Island from the top. We could even see Albania across the channel.

69: Of course, I got hungry while we were ashore. I wanted a Gyro, but we couldn't find one to go, so I got a Nutella and banana crepe. It was divine! And again, we could only find Coke! As we were walking back to the ship we noticed that there were dogs everywhere. It seemed kind of strange to us. | Luke was surprised to see the STIHL and Kubota Logos, so he had me take a picture of them.

70: Our Last Gala Night | This is Ethan and Emma. They, along with their parents, John and Mary, were seated at the same dinner table as us. Emma and I became instant friends when I said we had horses at home! They made the cruise even more fun for us.

71: Luke was planning our route to our hotel in Venice. He was so prepared. ...And the map that he has out there, I was tricked into stealing. It was completely innocent on my part, but he will tell you different. | The Wait Staff put on a Farewell program for us.

72: DUBROVNIK | This is a walled city, built during the 15th Century. For a -rather large-fee tourists can walk along the top of the wall. So we made our way down the main street, the Strandun, and paid our fee to make the trek. It was another beautiful, sunny day. The temperature was perfect for the walk.

73: For some reason I was surprised to see that the people of Dubrovnik have garden gnomes, so I had to take a picture!

74: Another beautiful view! | I'm pretty sure mermaids live in this cove. The water was so blue and clear. Even from the top of the wall we could see the rocks on the bottom.

75: There were SO many stairs, by the end of the day our legs were VERY sore!

76: We did a little shopping and, of course, got gelato with the time we had left in port after we walked the wall. We made sure we got to sit on the top level of the tender boat on the way back to the ship so we could get a few more pictures of Dubrovnik.

77: I wonder if Luke ever started to regret getting me a new camera for my birthday the year before this trip?!? | I could not get over how blue and clear the water was. I was thinking very seriously about throwing my sunglasses in just to watch how far they would sink before we lost sight of them! Luckily, they kind of rushed us aboard or my glasses would now belong to a mermaid!

78: After lunch we hung out in the lounge and watched the world go by... literally! | Once we were back on the ship we got lunch. For our last day aboard, we opted for the fancy lunch in the restaurant. I ordered fried fish, expecting something like fish sticks, what I got was something very different. | Our last sunset at sea...gorgeous

79: We sat with the Bofinger family at the show the last night, like we had most of the nights aboard the ship. We really enjoyed spending time with them. They are from America but were living in Germany at the time; John is in the Air Force. When Ethan took Luke's hat and put it on, I couldn't resist the photo op! | That night we got our bags packed and everything ready to go for our disembarkation the next morning. We had to leave our big bags outside our cabins that night, but could keep our carry-on sized bags and backpacks with us. We were ordering drinks and soda like crazy, because we had bought a drink package. Strangely enough, we both got the "Boys and Girls" drink package because we didn't want any alcoholic drinks. | We really started to like these Kinder chocolate bars.

80: We woke early this morning. We had to vacate our cabin by 8am, and we wanted to see St. Mark's Square as we sailed through the canal again. This is what we saw instead...FOG. We were supposed to disembark between 10 and 11am. It was easy to see that wouldn't be happening. The crew told us the port was closed due to the fog. Since we couldn't go back to our room and it was too cold to sit outside, we hung out in the lounge again. Around noon, they announced they would serve lunch. that told us it was still going to be a while. As the day went on we walked around the ship occasionally. I took pictures to show just how long we were stuck in the fog. | 1:22pm, still on the ship in the fog... | Luke freezing on the ship in the fog... | 3:27pm, still on the ship in the fog... | We had to drink more Coke because the ship didn't have Pepsi. We concluded that Europe didn't have Pepsi.

81: 7:48pm still on the ship... | We made it to the port of Trieste, Italy and were finally released from the ship at 9:20pm. We were told the buses would arrive shortly.... | At just about 10pm we got on a bus headed for Venice. Only then did we learn it was going to be a THREE HOUR drive... | After waiting in the freezing cold for a mere 40 minutes, the buses pulled up. The entire disembarkation was total chaos, but this part was the worst. Nobody knew which buses were going where. | At about 1:30am the bus let some people off at the Venice airport, then took the rest of us to the cruise port. There was just one problem: the train and water bus stations were over a mile away. We had no other choice, so we started walking despite the chilly temperature. At about 2:30am we made it to our hotel. They didn't have a 24-hour staff so we had to wait for someone to unlock the door and let us in. We were quickly shown to our room. I don't think either of us have ever been so happy to see a bed! | At about 5pm they told us the port in Venice was still closed so we would disembark at a different port and there would be buses waiting to take us back to Venice. They said it would take a few hours to get there. I was thinking our troubles had ended with the lost luggage, but I was wrong. We were supposed to spend this day exploring the city of Venice, NOT choking on the second-hand smoke of smoke rude Italian family!

82: Once again we slept in because once again we were exhausted. And once again, we missed breakfast at the hotel. When we did finally get up, we agreed to just get ready and go get lunch. As we were running through the city the night before, I had noticed an ad for the Hard Rock Café and knew it wasn't far from our hotel so we decided to eat there. | Venice captivated both of us from the start. | Venice

83: Finally, we were going to eat! This was the only exception I allowed to my "Eating Only Authentic Food" rule, but we didn't want to take the time to find somewhere else to eat. | THEY HAD PEPSI!!! We were so excited! We each ordered a large glass of it. Then we ordered Nachos to share. We each had a green salad with RANCH-another first for this trip. I had a BBQ Pork Sandwich and Luke had the Bacon Cheeseburger.

84: We didn't realize it until we left, but we spent over three hours at Hard Rock! We still had a lot to see so we picked up the pace. | There was a DOG in the Giorgio Armani store. That was the most unbelievable thing I saw the entire trip! | St. Mark's Square

85: Venice, the city of Masks | This is blown glass, something else Venice is famous for. | It was cold, too cold for a ride in a Gondola, but NOT too cold for Gelato. We are kind of addicted! | St. Mark's Basilica

86: We went to a play our first real night in Venice. It was very fun and entertaining. The plot basically covered the history of Venice, so it was very informative too. We really enjoyed it. Even Luke said it was good and he had fun! I was surprised that Luke agreed to go, let alone like it so much, but I'm glad he did.

87: The Doge's Palace | We were still full from lunch and our Gelato so we didn't even eat dinner this night. | These walkways are in place for when the city floods. It took me a while to figure that out! | The Bridge of Sighs

88: This was our last day in Venice so we were up early and ready to go. We had a small breakfast at the hotel. I was excited to have Nutella again. | Then I snapped a few pictures of our hotel. We stayed at Hotel la Residenza. It was originally built as a palace. I felt like a princess here. This was another hotel recommended by Rick Steves. We loved it.

89: The view from our room | This apple made the whole trip with us. I bought it in the SLC airport and forgot about it!

90: We had an early flight out of Venice the next morning so we booked a room on the mainland, closer to the airport. We were flying out at 6:30am so we could be back in Salt Lake City for my mom's 50th birthday celebration. This was our last day to see and buy the stuff we wanted to. We packed our bags and checked out of Hotel la Residenza, but had them hold our bags for us. We planned to go back to St. Mark's Square, see the Rialto Bridge, then get lunch and our souvenirs, all in the foggy cold. I wanted something that represented everything that Venice is known for: Masks, Blown Glass, and Lace. Then we would get our bags and make our way to the other hotel. As we were walking to St. Mark's Square Luke started talking about the next time we come to Venice. I couldn't believe my ears, he was saying we could come back one day! Yay yay yay!! | The winged lion is the symbol of St. Mark, so it is also the symbol of Venice. | The pigeons are NOT people-shy

91: The bronze horses top St. Mark's Basilica. They have had many homes over the years, they were created in the 4th Century BC. These ones are actually exact replicas of the originals, which are kept inside the museum to protect them from further damage. We chose not to go inside the Basilica or Museum due to lack of time. | An ad for tours in the USA. It seemed weird to see this, because that's home to us!

92: RialtoBridge and the Grand Canal

93: Lunch at Hard Rock Café again, because we wanted more Pepsi! This time we each got a salad and shared the Nachos. | Another dogs just running around | We were running low on cash-again-so we had to get more. Check out this exchange rate, I felt robbed! | Time to shop | I would have bought every one of these masks if Luke had let me. Instead, he limited me to 3. He keeps me under control.

94: This mosaic depicts how the Venetians smuggled St. Mark's remains out of Egypt in 828AD.

95: Mission: Accomplished! | This is Hotel la Residenza and some of the surrounding buildings | Then it was time to get our bags and leave Venice. This was a bit of a sad moment, we really enjoyed our time here. So we signed the guest book and went back to the Water Bus stop. | The Danieli I was so excited to see this hotel. It is in one of my favorite movies, The Tourist. Luke didn't even need to ask why I had stopped to take these pictures. I just wish we had had time to go inside, maybe next time.

96: The sun finally came out while we were on the Water Bus. I loved the architecture here as much as I did in Rome.

97: After the Water Bus we took a regular bus to the airport to get familiar with it and to arrange for a taxi for the morning. Luke, of course, took care of everything for us.

98: We made it to Hotel Ducale without any trouble, it was only ten minutes from the airport. The restaurant was closed in the hotel so they recommended a pizzeria just down the street. We took our bags up to our room and then headed to dinner. | CIAO

99: We must have gotten lost because we ended up having Paninis. This was the first time we had any trouble communicating with anyone, we spoke no Italian and the staff at the sandwich shop spoke VERY little English. So we had to just kind of guess what we were ordering to eat. But we did ok, we both like what we got, for the most part. | After dinner we did a tiny little bit more shopping. We got more Kinder bars, and pastries but could not find any Bellini. We missed our chance to buy some in Venice, it's something else that the city is known for. I re-packed all of our bags to save time in the morning. We went to bed before 9pm.

100: We were up at 4:20am this morning. Our taxi was supposed to come at 5am, but he was about 10 minutes late and we started to panic a bit. But we made it to the airport and got through security in good time. | Once we were all on board, the captain announced that the flight was going to be delayed due to the fog in Amsterdam. The flight attendants told us we should still be able to catch our next flight, but it would be close. I was learning to expect NOTHING to go as planned! As we were landing in Amsterdam we could see the windmills above the fog, that was kind of neat. We landed about an hour late so we had to hustle to get to our next gate. In the Amsterdam Airport you have to go through Customs and Security, even if you are just there for a connection. We were literally running through the airport to catch our next flight. At the Customs desk they asked why our Passports had not been stamped, we explained that nobody stamped them in Italy and they just rolled their eyes as they handed our passports back. The man helping Luke muttered, "Stupid Italians." But we were just happy they let us through. We finally made it to our gate and they had already started boarding; most of the other passengers were already in their seats. We showed our boarding passes and Passports and found our way to our seats. We had made it! | Our first flight was on a little plane. This flight was referred to as a City Hopper because it was just to Amsterdam and the total flight time was going to be about 45 minutes.

101: This was going to be the longest flight of the trip: 10 hours and 3 minutes, so we got comfortable. Our seats were just behind the wing this time. This plane was another 767 so it wasn't too crowed. We would fly to Portland, OR, then catch another plane to Salt Lake City. A couple hours into the flight they served lunch. I had the chicken and rice, Luke had the pasta. Each meal had a whole wheat roll, cheese, green salad, and a cookie as well. | We were flying with the sun so even though we took off in full sunlight it got a little darker for a bit then we were in a sunrise for about 4 hours. What a beautiful sight! | Our flight route took us right over Greenland...not green at all! It was a place I never expected to see, but thrilled that I got to. | How sweet is this?!? This is all the cash we had left. I'm not even going to try to guess how much we spent! But it was all worth it.

102: We had the time of our lives on the trip, but we were happy to be back in America and use Dollars instead of Euros. We had to go through Customs in Portland, OR and they didn't seem too surprised when we explained about our Passports not having stamps. So I asked them to explain it to us. The nice man helping us said that some countries in Europe are part of the E.U., European Union, and they don't follow the same regulations with immigration and passports. That was a good enough explanation for us. But I was kind of disappointed that we didn't have all the neat stamps. In Portland we were also informed that our bags had not arrived with us, which was no shock to us by now. They took our information and said the luggage would be delivered to our house in a day or two. I was SO grateful I had packed all of our souvenirs and my make-up in our carry-ons! We arrived in Salt Lake after another short flight. My mom, Lance, Shadeau, Mav, and Rem were all waiting for us. We were very happy to see them all!

103: My mom didn't know it, but we had all planned to meet at Trolley Square and have dinner at Rodizio Grill to celebrate her 50th birthday. We had Luke tell her he needed to meet someone there to get something for his horses. She totally bought it! We were just hanging out in the parking lot, waiting for this guy, and she didn't even notice the rest of our family pull in. We had Rhett and my dad drive our car down so we could drive ourselves home. But she was happy when we told her the actual plan! And she really liked the Cinderella's Carriage Treasure Box we got her in Athens. I was so happy our delays and set backs hadn't kept us from this! | The final surprise of the night was the limo my dad had gotten for my mom and all the grandkids.

104: Our Souvenirs | ROME We got a tile with a portion of the painting from the Sistine Chapel on it at the Vatican Museum. We also get a spray paint painting from a street artist. | ATHENS Harry took us to "The Factory" and we got a little vase/pitcher, a ring with the image of Apollo the God of the Sun, and a Cinderella's Carriage Treasure Box. | DUBROVNIK I got two beautiful necklaces, one made with Red Coral and the other called a Konavoske Puce. | ON THE SHIP Luke picked out this shot glass from the ship gift shop.

105: This was the most amazing trip. When I was planning it I never imagined it would be so incredible. Even with the lost luggage and all of the delays, this was the trip of my dreams. And I am so happy I got to share it with Luke. It was exactly what our relationship needed. I had the time of my life with Luke and we made memories that will last a lifetime. So I just have to say: Thank you Luke, I love you with all my heart! You made this trip perfect and unforgettable. | VENICE This is where I learned that Luke liked shot glasses. I wish he would have told me before, we could have gotten him one from every city. We also got a blown glass gondoleir and Christmas Ornament. I got a lace fan, too. We also came home with 4 masks, 3 for me and 1 for Luke. I made him pick out at least one for himself. | We had so many masks that I needed help modeling them!

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  • By: Abby A.
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  • Title: Italy Trip 2011
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