FC: Europe 2010
2: Our first day in Rome was a total whirlwind. We were deliriously exhausted and it was just so surreal to actually be there! We had a blast taking in the sights, were a bit disappointed with our first meal (but it all went uphill after that), and stayed in a great little guest room.
8: On our way to lunch we found this pretty little area. There was a guy playing the accordion which gave us another surreal "oh my word, we're in Rome!" feeling. While we were there we also bought three pretty paintings from this cute old Italian.
9: The National Museum of Rome
11: This was some of the coolest stuff we saw in the museum. I think the highlight was seeing real denarii! It just so amazing to see something you read about in the Bible.
12: This was a beautiful church where we got to hear an adorable old man give a mini concert on the organ. We got there at just the right time!
15: We got totally lost trying to find this restaurant that Rick Steve's recommends, but thankfully we didn't give up... the food was amazing! Later on we hung out in the Piazza near the Pantheon and watched some street performers sing. Night life in Rome is so much fun!
16: The next day we took a tour of the Roman Forum and Colosseum. Stephan, our guide, was great. It was so cool to learn about (and see and touch) such ancient history.
18: This temple (that's over 2,000 years old) still has a working lock and key! And that stone path is one of the first Roman roads... and we walked on it!
20: Walking through the Colosseum!
25: We had no idea what to expect on Palatine Hill. It ended up being awesome and we stayed for almost three hours! It was so beautiful and gave us some gorgeous views for pictures!
34: Unfortunately they were doing maintenance work on the Pantheon while we were there, so no good pictures from the outside. Inside it was amazing to see a perfect dome. The fact that it was constructed in 120 AD shows that it was way ahead of it's time! Fun fact: what looks like tiles and shadows is actually just painted. The dome is perfectly smooth.
38: One of the best decisions of our whole trip was paying for this very expensive tour. It was worth every penny! Our guide, Gabriel, was so knowledgeable about art and church history and kept us completely interested the entire 6 hours! We loved every second of it! We aren't even big "art" or "museum" people, so that was quite the accomplishment. I just wish I could remember all we learned!
43: Saint Peter's Basilica was so incredible. Absolutely gigantic and gorgeous. They actually spent 100 years trying to decorate it in a way to make it feel smaller using optical illusions. Still looked massive! Michaelangelo's Pieta was breathtaking, as was the Sistine Chapel (which we were sadly unable to photograph).
48: Our room in Florence was definitely the worst one (but also the cheapest). The floors were kind of gross and we had to share a bathroom with other guests. However, we had an awesome view!
49: The Galileo Museum. Unfortunately it was pretty boring.
58: The statue of David was way bigger than we anticipated and really spectacular. Besides Michaelangelo's Four Prisoners, there wasn't really anything else interesting at the museum though.
59: We also went to the Uffizi Gallery and there was a lot of beautiful art. The highlight was definitely seeing The Birth of Venus and Primavera. Both were massive, beautiful paintings. We weren't allowed to take pictures though, so after sneaking this one of The Primavera we weren't able to catch a good one of the Birth of Venus.
60: We went for a day long tour of Tuscany. Our first stop was Sienna. This square is where they've held horse races every July 2nd and August 15th since the 13th century!
62: This definitely wasn't the prettiest church we saw, but it was the most ornate. Literally every square inch was decorated in some way. On the opposite page is just a small sample of the floor. It's actually covered 10 months out of the year to help preserve it, so it was a treat that we were there during the 2 months you can see it!
65: Our next stop was for lunch at a winery and farm right outside of San Gimignano. The view was gorgeous, the food and wine was incredible (everything we ate was from the farm), and we had a great time talking with the people at our table.
70: Our highlight was visiting San Gimignano. It was the prettiest, quaint little town and had THE BEST gelato we've ever tasted (and we were buying gelato twice a day throughout our whole stay in Italy)!
74: Pisa was our final stop, and a total tourist trap. It added about an hour each way of driving and just wasn't worth it. Besides seeing the leaning tower, there was literally nothing interesting to do. We got bored pretty quickly and ended up sitting in a McDonald's until it was time to head back.
75: GIMMELWALD, SWITZERLAND
76: The train system in Italy is extremely disorganized, and the person who directed us to our train sent us on the wrong one! It was headed into Switzerland, but in a completely different direction than what we needed! Thankfully we realized this and Swiss trains are way easier to navigate so we were able to figure out where to go, but we still ended up spending 2 hours more traveling than we should have. At least the view was pretty!
77: It was pitch black when we arrived, so we were totally surprised when we woke up to this gorgeous view!
95: This was a brutal hike. It was SO steep and the uphill climb felt like it'd never end! We ran across some lumberjacks as we were hiking and they were surprised to see us on that trail... apparently it's something only Swiss lumberjacks use! Below is a view of Gimmelwald, with the larger town of Grindelwald behind it.
98: The hard work paid off... the view was spectacular!
105: Imagine getting to play at that playground! | None of these pictures have been edited at all... the grass was really that green!
120: Thanks to all the drama in Paris, it took us forever to get to Vernazza. We were so exhausted and hungry by the time we arrived, and unfortunately all the restaurants were closed so we had to go to bed on empty stomachs!