S: Our Honeymoon: July 13-August 1
BC: After an amazing honeymoon adventure and a wonderful time in Dusseldorf, it was time to go home (even though we seriously considered staying a couple more days to explore Germany). We are so blessed to have had the opportunity to spend three weeks exploring Europe, and each other as newlyweds. What a TIME!
FC: Our Honeymoon
1: Barcelona, Spain Hesperia Hotel July 14-17, 2011
2: We spent two days laying out on the beach.
3: This is the entry way to Park GÃ¼uell. | It took a long time to walk the stairs and take the escalators to the top. | When we got to the top it was worth every step. The view of the city of Barcelona was breathtaking.
4: Park GÃ¼uell | The house above looks like a house from the game Candy Cane Lane
5: The view from the top of Park GÃ¼uell looking at the street.
6: Magic Fountain
7: Las Ramblas | We carefully walked down Las Ramblas as it is famous for pickpocketing. The street vendors are very creative. Our favorite was Elephant Man. He appears to be floating in midair and we could not figure out how we stayed suspended in the air.
8: While waiting for our flight to Rome we decided to eat breakfast at McDonalds (most places were not yet open). | To our surprise, we found that they offered freshly squeezed orange juice as an option. When I went to take a picture they all put their hands up and yelled "no picture!" Oops...too late...
9: We arrived in Rome around 9AM. As soon as we exited the airport, we were approached by a taxi driver who offered to take us to our hotel for 80 Euro. We were appalled by the price, but we did not know of another way to get around so were forced to accept. | After 45 minutes of driving and speaking with our driver, Stefano, about Rome and the corruption in the city, we arrived at our hotel. We were too early to check into our room so we attempted to figure out the transportation in Rome. | The hotel provided us with a map, but our hotel was not on it, so it made it difficult to use as a frame of reference. We soon found out that very few people speak English in Rome, which made for a very frustrating morning.
10: The top picture is a Roman immigrant museum. The picture to the right and bottom are of the ruins in the city. | The fountain above is centrally located and is available for visitors to obtain fresh drinking water.
11: Some of the ruins we saw while walking towards the Colosseum
12: The Colosseum
13: Arch of Constantine
14: While taking a break from the heat we stopped under a tree and spent some time observing the surrounding pigeons. It was interesting to see which pigeons were at the top of the pecking order. The alpha had full control of the food and the other pigeons would try to get a bite in whenever the alpha would walk away. We noticed two separate groups. | Ron decided to put the food from each of the alpha's together to see what would happen. When the two top pigeons were forced to eat together there appeared to still be a pecking order and the pigeon not at the top was forced to wait while the other pigeon ate the food.
15: We decided to walk around Rome without a goal, just to do some exploring and see random things.
16: While taking a break from the sun, Ron piled up stones, while I got attacked by mosquito's.
17: Trastevere | While waiting for dinner there were bells ringing for 15 minutes. When the bells stopped a doll made to look like the Pope was carried through the city. | After dinner we realized we had not eaten in actual area we had intended to so we took some pictures and rushed to catch the last bus.
18: The Cruise: Celebrity Equinox Cruise Aqua Class Our Stateroom
19: This is the first day of the cruise. We went to sign up for our beverage package and to check out the special features of "Aqua Class."We decided to go to the sauna and steam room before dinner.
20: This is the restaurant "Blu" which is one of the restaurants we could dine in each evening. After dinner, we went back to our room to enjoy a drink while relaxing on our balcony.
21: This is our first day at sea on our way to Santorini, Greece. This was the first or two formal nights in the dining room.
22: There is not a berth to park the ship, so we got to shore via tender boats.
23: There are three ways to get to Santorini: by cable car, walking, or donkey.What other choice would we have made?
24: We walked in the opposite direction of the tourist's and explored the city around the port. of Santorini.
25: While exploring Santorini, we found a restaurant away from the majority of the port city and decided to stop and have a bite to eat. Our server was a college student from Athen's who worked at Saltsa during the summer. We were one of two tables so he spent a lot of time speaking with us about the food, recommendations in Santorini, and Greece in general. The food here was all homemade and very fresh.
26: We planned to take the cable cars down to our ship, but after finding a two hour wait, we decided to take our second donkey ride.
27: Wine on the lawn
28: Athens, Greece | While we were in Athens there was a taxi strike, so it was the one day that we went on a cruise tour. Our first stop was the Acropolis.
31: The Acropolis is currently being remodeled due to inconsistencies found when compared to the original structure.
32: This is the Panathenaic Stadium; which was used to hold the first Olympic Games in 1896. | While in Athens, there was a taxi strike being held across the street from the government building in downtown Athens.
33: Hot Glass Show | After dinner, we decided to check out the Hot Glass Show, which was put on by the Corning Museum of Glass. It was amazing to see how a hot ball of glass becomes a beautiful piece of art.
34: Because our cabin was in "Aqua Class" we had daily access to the sauna, steam room and relaxation Room. In the relaxation room we would hydrate with cucumber and orange flavored water while watching the waves from the ship.
35: At 7AM we were woken up to the sounds of loud Turkish Music. This is what we saw outside of our window... | I S T A N B U L, TURKEY
36: Blue | When we were getting ready to go inside of the Blue Mosque we were approached by a man who appeared to be there to help others (although this was not the actual case, as we figured). He did give us some good information about the Mosque and showed us how to enter, but while walking towards the entrance he tried to convince us to come to his Turkish rug store to a buy a rug for the best price in town. | Inside of the Mosque you are not allowed to wear shoes, so outside of the exit doors are fountains to wash your feet before putting your shoes back on.
38: This is the Hagia Sophia, which is across from the Blue Mosque
39: The Grand Bazaar | We were able to bargain the bowl from 85 Lira to 35 Lira!
40: After quickly walking through the Grand Bazaar we began looking for a restaurant with authentic food. We found this place down an alley and gave it a try. | No one spoke any English, but they were very friendly. Somehow we managed to order a ton of amazing food, this was definitely one of our best meals on the trip.
41: After lunch we walked to the city aqueduct. | While walking back we went through a neighborhood while trying to find an "Efes" beer for Ron. | Ron asked if he could drink while walking around and the guy wrapped the beer in newspaper and said "no problem".
42: The top two pictures are an example of the apartments we saw while walking down the street. | The bottom two pictures are of men with elaborate backpacks selling some sort of drink (we assumed afternoon tea).
43: The view on the way back to the ship. | Next to the University of Istanbul was a map of the countries with and without peace, take note that the USA does not have peace.
44: We went to a Reidel wine tasting with emphasis on using the right glass when drinking and were blown away by the difference! | The sunset on the way to dinner.
45: We met Rebecca and John on the cruise. They joined us for our day in Ephesus. When we departed the cruise we got on a mini bus thinking we were going to Ephesus and we paid the full fair. After about half a mile the driver told us to transfer to another bus so we did. They wanted us to pay again, so we ended up arguing with the "beach manager" for about an hour because we refused to be ripped off. We finally decided to just get on the bus. When we arrived in Ephesus, we got off without paying and the driver chased us down and this nice lady helped translate. We told the driver to speak with the "beach manager" because he had his money and we walked away. | Ephesus, Turkey
46: This is the Church of Mary located in the city of Ephesus. We were able to walk around the ruins, climb up stairs, and touch anything we wanted to.
49: Ron found a note hidden in the wall. It turned out to be information about the Catholic faith.
50: We ran into a guy in the middle of nowhere trying to sell these coins that he "found" that morning in the ruins.
51: The South Gate ofAgora | Due to the heat we literally speed walked through the rest of Ephesus and took pictures of the areas we skipped over. | The Celsus Library | The Nymphaeum Traiani | The Nymphaeum Traiani
52: After a long negotiation with a cab driver; we were able to go to the House of Mary and back to our port for 100 Euro.
53: The House of Mary was such a spiritual place. We were fortunate that John was so persistent that we go. The pictures shown below are of the prayer wall.
55: When we arrived in Kusadasi we stopped by the tourist center and asked for a restaurant with the most traditional food and were directed to Avlu. The food was so fresh and so delicious! | Kusadasi is known for selling watches that look just like name brand watches and work well, but are available at a fraction of the cost. All around the city you see signs and souvenirs advertising "Genuine Fake Watches."
56: Before arriving in Mykonos, Greece, we spoke with the concierge about the best way to get around the island; he recommended renting a 4-wheeler if we wanted to go visit some of the less populated beaches. We got off the ship and caught a bus to the rental area and attempted to rent a 4-wheeler. Unfortunately, they were all gone and our only option was a motor bike. We lied saying we were familiar with driving a motor bike, paid our 20 Euro and off we went to Agrari Beach.
57: After many hills and turns we arrived at the beautiful Agrari beach. (a local spot that was recommended to us by our bus driver earlier that morning) | We only spent an hour on the beach in order to allow us enough time to make it to our lunch destination, the restaurant Oregano (also recommended by our bus driver), and back on the ship in time for departure.
58: After getting comfortable on the bike I took my camera out and tried to capture some of the beauty that is Mykonos. While rounding a curve we lost control of the bike and slid across the gravel, fortunately no other vehicles were involved. Ron was so amazing and got things under control, while I sat in shock. A few minutes after the accident a Lifeguard truck stopped to help us and treat our wounds.
59: Ron patiently convinced me to get back on the bike so we could grab lunch and get back on the ship on time. Due to our mental state we missed our turn and decided to just keep driving until we found another restaurant . | Thank God, we found this amazing hotel with these beautiful beaches that allowed us to relax, served us delicious food, & tended to our wounds (despite how we looked).
60: When we arrived back on the ship we went to the nurses station to buy Neosporin & bandages. The following morning we went back to the nurse's station to have Ron's hand cleaned and bandaged.
61: Food & Wine pairing | Thank God we had a sea day following our Motorcycle incident in Mykonos. We treated ourselves to some much needed R&R.
62: This was our last formal night on the cruise; we spent the evening with John & Rebecca.
63: We arrived in the Salerno/Naples/Pompeii port and took a train to Pompeii for the morning. It was quite difficult to obtain tickets to the train, but we eventually got to the platform; tickets in hand. | Pompeii, Italy
64: This church is one of the first buildings you notice when you enter the main square of Pompeii.
65: These are some of the things we saw while walking around the main square. | This is a tribute to the victims of September 11, 2011.
66: Some of the signs we saw while walking towards the ruins of Pompeii.
67: The ruins of Pompeii. This place is huge; large enough to work up an appetite walking through it...we only had a limited amount of time to spend here.
70: Mount Vesuvius:The mountain that erupted and destroyed Pompeii.
71: We spent the day looking for the bodies of those killed by the eruption and were about to give up... | but we found them right before we were leaving.
72: The streets of Pompeii. We think the picture of the dog is the Italian version of "Beware of Dog." | The bottom two pictures are of schools we passed on our way to the train station.
73: The food from the restaurant we finally decided on after walking around the city looking for the most genuine Italian food. The food here was fantastic!
74: We arrived back at the train station to go to the port, but found out all of the trains to our port had been canceled. After finding a small group going to the same location we split the cost of a taxi and got back with enough time to spare to get Gelato. The pictures to the left are of the cruise on our last day at sea before returning to Rome, Italy.
75: After spending the day traveling from the port to the airport and trying to catch an early flight to Düsseldorf, Germany we gave up and decided to spend the weekend in Rome. It was late when we booked out room so when we arrived at our hotel we relaxed for awhile then went to dinner at a place nearby. The Ossobuco was amazing!
76: The Beginning of Rome Round Two... | This was what we saw as soon as we got off of the Metro.
77: Some of the things we saw while walking towards the Spanish Steps.
78: The Spanish Steps | While taking pictures we noticed this man helping these kids look homeless. They put a hat in front of them and sat on the steps and waited for people to give them money (Hustlers!).
79: After the Spanish Steps we walked towards a fountain landmark we saw on our tourist map (top, right). | Then we headed in the direction of the restaurant we were recommended to eat pizza at by our server the previous night. These are some of the things we saw along the way.
80: On our way to lunch we saw this cathedral with a beautiful fountain. We decided to go in and see if we could find a Rosary for a friend back home.
81: Although we did not find a Rosary we did discover this beautiful cathedral. We were surprised by how decadent and elaborate the features and details inside of the cathedral; the outside looked very humble. The picture with the angels is hand carved using marble.
82: We ate lunch at Napule 'e Masaneiello. We order Bruscetta, two Peroni's and a spicy sausage pizza. This was one of the best pizza's we had ever had! On our way back to our hotel we saw this sign and thought how ridiculous it was that they never took down the previous advertisements, but rather added on to the top.
83: This Cathedral, the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, was located across the street from our hotel so after relaxing from all the walking we went to look inside. The rosary store was setup like an subsurface convenience store.
84: These are pictures from inside of the cathedral. There was a service being held as we walked around.
85: After eating breakfast on the rooftop of our hotel we took some pictures of our view.
86: Düsseldorf, Germany Brauerei Schumacher | After a long day of traveling on "Easy Jet" we finally arrived in beautiful Düsseldorf for our one night layover. Dinner was so delicious.
87: We ordered the pork shank, sausage sampler & lots of beer. | For dessert we had homemade vanilla ice cream and cooked cherries.
88: This was a cathedral we passed while walking back to our hotel.
89: Old Town