FC: Europe | 2011
1: Itinerary April 28 : Hamburg May 2 : Aalten May 4 : Amsterdam May 6 : Hamburg May 10 : Berlin May 11 : Prague May 13 : Rome May 16 : Florence, San Gimignano May 19 : Pisa, Verona, Venice May 21 : Munich May 23 : Hamburg May 26 : Winnipeg
3: We spent about ten days in the beautiful city of Hamburg with Brandy, Tom, and the kids. They were great tour guides. We went downtown and saw the shopping district, St. Nicholi Church, and climbed St.Michaelis Church Tower to get amazing views of the city. Brandy also took us to the local outdoor market, and the Christmas ornament store. Teal and I checked out the Reeperbahn one night and did a lot of shopping on our own.
4: We spent a day at Hamburg's famous annual Harbour Fest. It was amazing to see all the ships cover the water. We walked the boardwalk which was filled with stands selling food and alcohol. There was also a huge ferris wheel which allowed us to take some beautiful pictures of the harbour.
7: On May 10th we celebrated Liam's first birthday before leaving for Berlin. Lauren and I walked Chloe to school then came home to Liam opening his presents! Brandy and Tom bought him an awesome wooden fire truck wagon which are quite popular in Germany. We got him a cute outfit, bathtub book, and a rolling toy. We were glad to be there for his special day!
8: We drove about an hour from Hamburg to visit Bergen-Belson Concentration Camp. It is known for being the camp where Anne Frank died. There weren't any original buildings left, but we saw many mass graves. There was also a museum which was very interesting and included a lot of artifacts and pictures. | It was definitely disturbing to see what it was like to be at the camp, but it was an interesting experience and I'm glad we had the chance to go.
9: Jork is a small farming town about a half hour outside Hamburg. It's full of beautiful buildings which almost look like doll houses. We spent some time walking around and admiring the architecture and cute shops. Then we went to an apple farm and had some fresh apple danishes and apple juice! Yum!!
10: We spent two nights at Henny and Ben's house in Aalten. They were great hosts and treated us to many "typical Dutch" things. On our first day Henny took us on a walking tour of the town. Aalten is a very small, well-kept town with beautiful houses and gardens everywhere. They were very interested in hearing about Canadian traditions. | AALTEN
12: Anne Frank's house | Homomonument | Downtown street | Amsterdam
13: Amsterdam is one of the most beautiful cities I've ever seen. It has many canals and old interesting buildings. We enjoyed a canal tour on our first day there. Then we spent the rest of our time exploring the city. We | had a lot of fun going into the weird shops and checking out the Red Light District. I tried to take a picture of a hooker from across the canal but she gave me the finger. We also went to the Anne Frank Museum and attended a special ceremony for Liberation Day.
15: Lauren and I were only in Berlin for one night so we tried to see as much as we could. We started off taking a bus tour of the city which allowed us to see the main sites like the Berlin Wall, Brandenburg Gate, and the Reichstag building.
17: We took a scenic train from Berlin and arrived in Prague around 3 o'clock. We checked into a hostel that had a gorgeous view and was three minutes away from Old Town Square. Our first evening we toured the square and saw the Astronomical Clock and Tyn Church. There was a big celebration because the Czechs beat the US hockey team! Then we headed to Charles Bridge.
18: We had a long uphill walk to Prague Castle and the Royal Palace from Charles Bridge. Prague Castle is the largest castle in the world. It was impressive! The next morning we visited the Old Jewish Cemetery and Synagogue, Powder Tower, and did some shopping. | Bell Tower | Old Jewish Cemetery | Prague Castle
20: ROME | Trevi Fountain | Pantheon | Spanish Steps | Roman Keyhole | Mouth of Truth
21: Lauren and I spent a day on our own in Rome then met our Contiki tour group. We began our first evening on a walking tour of Rome, then had time to explore, shop, and get our first (of many) Italian gelato! The next day our group went on a guided tour of the Colosseum and Roman Forum. The Colosseum tour was one of my favorite things in Rome. We learned all about the life of a gladiator.
23: On our last day in Rome we had a guided tour of the Vatican Museum, St. Peter's Basilica, and the Sistine Chapel. My favorite part of the tour was seeing Michelangelo's artwork inside the Sistine Chapel. It was definitely a once in a lifetime experience. The size of St. Peter's Basilica was unbelievable. It's the largest Christian church in the world. We also got to see Pope John Paul the 2nd's casket which was brought out three weeks before we arrived.
25: We ate a lot of pizza in Rome! One of our group dinners was at a pizza place where they made the pizza right in front of us. We all got to try the classic margherita, spinach and feta, and pepperoni pizzas. They were all delicious!
27: Florence was one of my favorite places we visited. It is a beautiful, quaint city, very different from Rome. On our first morning in Florence we went to a leather demonstration, followed by a guided walking tour of the city. We saw the replica Statue of David, Uffizi Gallery, the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge), Duomo and Bell Tower. The Old Bridge was gorgeous. It was the only bridge in Florence that was not destroyed by the Germans during World War Two. Dozens of unique shops were built onto the bridge. After the walking tour we had some free time to shop and explore. We then met our group and drove up to the top of a hill where we had a spectacular sunset view of the entire city.
30: We started our night at a Tuscan restaurant... | then headed to a karaoke bar... | then stopped for a few cheap tequila shots, | danced at an Italian club, | THEN...
31: Jersey Shore !!! | Lauren, Leah, Sarah and I ended up at a bar called Astor where we met the entire cast of Jersey Shore! It was a small place which seemed even smaller with all the camera crew inside. I was so excited that I basically videotaped the entire night on my camera! At the end of the night we followed them home, then went back the next day to stalk them some more. Mike and Pauly came out on their balcony and yelled to us! Best night ever.
32: We visited a small Renaissance town called San Gimignano. There were many great views of the Tuscan countryside. We got lunch and the "world's best gelato." Then we drove to a winery in an old castle. We got to taste three different wines, and olive oil made at the vineyard. | San Gimignano
34: On our way to Venice we stopped at Pisa and saw the Leaning Tower. Verona is a cute little city where we visited Juliette's balcony. There is a statue of Juliette and if you rub her right breast you are said to have good luck in love. | Pisa
36: Venice | We only had a day in Venice so we made the most of it by going to a glass blowing demo and taking a gondola ride. I really enjoyed exploring the tiny pathways in Venice and seeing how the locals live.
41: We took a train from Munich to the city of Fussen, then caught the bus to the Neushwanstein Castle. We stopped several times on the steep walk to the castle to amuse ourselves and take a breather. It started pouring rain seconds after we took the picture on the right. The Neushwanstein Castle was built in the 19th century and was the home of King Ludwig. Unfortunately he died a few months after moving in. Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle is modeled after it.
42: Munich | We walked to the Glockenspiel to watch the copper figures move in and out to the sound of bells. We also saw the Neues Rathaus (New City Hall), Frauenkirche, and Michaelskirche.
43: We stopped at a beer garden in the English Garden and bought giant pretzels and enjoyed the view.