S: Backpacking Europe 2008
BC: "Don't measure your life by the breath that you take, but by the moments that take your breath away" | Best Experience of my life ! | Author Unknown
FC: Europe 6 countries, 12 cities, 3 world travelers
1: Eurotrip 2008 | June 17 to August 29 6 Countries, 12 Cities in 20 days | 1. Italy a. Cinque Terre b. Pisa c. Rome d. Florence e. Venice 2. Austria a. Vienna 3. Czech Republic a. Prague | 4. Germany a. Bacharach b. Fussen 5. Switzerland a. Lucerne b. Interlaken 6. Germany a. Munich
2: After a completely sleepless night of packing and repacking our brand new hefty backpacks, we got on the plane... and then another plane en route to Milan,Italy. The flight was 15 hours and far more daunting than we could have ever realized. When we got off the plane, we walked around the airport aimlessly trying to figure out how on earth we were going to make it to our first destination, Cinque Terre. We finally figured out how to use the ATM machine to get Euros and got on the bus thinking, "WE MADE IT!"!
3: Boy were we wrong. Feeling jet-lagged, we could not keep our eyes open for the life of us on the bus. Luckily another kind tourist tapped us on the shoulder in Genoa to let us know that was where we needed to catch the train. Apparently he had heard us talking. By the time we figured out the train system, talking to Italians who didn't speak any English, we had to RUN to catch the last train from Genoa to Riomaggorie for the night. Thank our lucky stars. That train took us to the most beautiful place in the world; a place we will never forget as it was the first place we traveled abroad together. And this was only the beginning of our European adventure...!!
4: We Have Arrived... | Calling to let our family know we made it | Whose are whose? Erika's feet were SO swollen from the flight | Our first adventures with trains between the 5 cities in Cinque Terre
5: CINQUE TERRE, ITALY | CINQUE TERRE, ITALY | At a time where the exchange rate was 2 USD=1 EU, we quickly discovered we could live cheapest and happiest on Pizza & Gelato
6: Italia | I
7: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, Montessoro Al Mare | Our hike between the 5 heavenly Italian villages
8: Pisa, | It was tough and scary leaving the quaint and beautiful Italian villages in Cinque Terre and heading for the big city of Rome. Our Aunt Lila had told us not to miss the Leaning Tower of Pisa so we made a stopover en route. We only had about 2 hours so we took a taxi from the train station and walked around doing the typical tourist things. Pisa was an amazing sight and we were glad we stopped.
9: After reading horror stories in our Rick Steve's travel book about pickpocketers and crime in Rome, we put on our money belts and game faces, and braved the journey to Rome. Angela had insisted that we book the nicest hotel for the price despite the location. So... our hotel was WAY on the outskirts of Rome in a slightly sketchy neighborhood, however it was the nicest building on the block! Somehow our guardian angels were watching out for us as we met Canadian travelers on the train who were also going to our hotel. We just happened to stand next to them as they were looking at their itinerary. Angela, being the bubbly soul she is made friends and we followed them the whole way there. We dropped our backpacks (always a lovely moment) and went exploring. Soon enough we realized there was nothing to be scared of Rome and thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful Vatican City! | Rome,
10: ROME | St. Peter's Square | Day 1 Rome: Roman Colloseum, Roman Forum, Spanish Steps, Rick Steve's Rome Walking Tour | Spanish Steps | Colosseum | Forum | Trevi Fountain | Angela on the phone in the Colosseum. Too bad we only had a phone in Italy | Thank you Rick Steves!
11: Vatican Museum | St. Peter's Basilica | Day 2 Rome: The Vatican, St Peter's Basilica, Hop-On Hop-Off Bus
12: Firenze - Florence - Florencia | Upon arriving to Europe, at this point it had been Erika's duty to figure out how to get to each of our destinations. We had to wake up at 4am to leave for Florence and Erika put the sole responsibility of getting to our hotel in Angela's hands. Angela had a cell phone and called the hotel for directions. They informed us of the correct bus and instructed us to get off on the fifth stop. Angela took that as meaning that the fifth time the bus stopped would be near our hotel. Well, at 5am there are not many people on the bus and the bus doesn't stop unless someone requests it to stop. By the time our bus actually stopped 5 times, we were completely out of the commercial district of Florence and in some neighborhood VERY far from our hotel. Angela became flustered, Erika frustrated. At this point Angela reverted to Plan B, which is always to start speaking English and smiling a lot in hopes someone will respond and help us. Luckily it always eventually works. We walked across the street in the neighborhood, got on the next bus heading back into the main part of Florence, and finally found our hotel. Our hotel should have been a 10 minute bus ride from the train station, but ended up taking about 2 hours! We were hot, tired, and frustrated. Needless to say, our first day in Florence started out rather grim. Luckily Florence is a beautiful city and the Italian charm quickly faded our worries. From this point on Plan A was for Erika to find all of our destinations and Plan B remained the same!
13: Italia | Michelangelo's David | Palazzo Vecchio | Duomo | Sightseeing the Streets of | Street Performers Galore | Beautiful Streets | PonteVecchio
14: La Toscana
15: Our second day in Florence was a complete success, all thanks to Angela! She found us an amazing tour including a bus ride to a Tuscan castle/winery and visit to a small Tuscan village. The views were absolutely breathtaking! This tour was completely spontaneous and quickly became a trip favorite! | I love Italy !
16: Firenze _ Florence _ Florencia | Firenze_ Florence_ Florencia | Florence was also a great place for shopping. We visited the market there and bought blown glass jewelry, purses, and more. This was also the destination where we had our first sit down meal. The exchange rate was nearly 2USD = 1 Eu and every restaurant charged a fee to sit down + water by the bottle. We shared Gnocchi and it was heavenly. Important to mention, Angela did go out after dark in Florence. | "Find Joy In The Journey"
17: Travels to Venezia | Venezia Here We Come... | We had many late, sleepless nights, early mornings, and jet lag on this trip. These pictures clearly show how train rides went; Angela listening to music and sleeping while Erika studies the travel book and figures out the details of the next destination. We met up with Dad in Venice. We gave him the hotel address and anxiously awaited hoping he could figure out how to find the place on his own. It was a huge sigh of relief to see his smiling face. We had been telling him for weeks to bring a backpack but he insisted on a suitcase. With jumping on and off buses and walking moderate distances to hotels, we were worried his suitcase would be a nightmare. He completely shocked us when he showed up with his pack, grinning from ear to ear.
18: We Venice | After settling in the hotel, we took the train into Venice to begin our two day journey exploring this city. We saw the sights, bought blown glass jewelry, rode the vaporetto (boat), and after a lot of pizza on the go, after dad arrived, we ate like kings! Thanks Dad! | Vecchia Murano Glass Factory
19: Rialto Bridge | Grand Canal | St. Mark's Square
20: Venice was Dad's first day on our trip. He had just completed the 15+ hour dreadful journey to Europe. Erika had informed him that the travel book stated, "Venice is like magic after dark," therefore we should stay until nightfall. Dad vocally disagreed stating he needed to go to bed early. The pictures say it all! Dad survived so we could all enjoy the magic. The reflection of the lights on the water truly was majestic beyond words. On the boat ride back, Dad leaned over and said, "Thanks Er, you were right." We were all happy to see it. And we were also all happy to go to sleep.
21: St. Mark's Square | Vaporetto | Beautiful Venice
23: Oh The Night Train... We had booked what we thought would be a luxurious room on the night train from Venice to Vienna. When we got on the train we had a tiny room approximately 10x6. It was extremely hot, cramped, and we discovered they wouldn't be feeding us or providing even a beverage until morning. Luckily Angela had half a water bottle which we rationed. There were three bunk beds to sleep on, no TV, no shower. Needless to say we played a lot of 20 questions and had a lot of great conversation. Dad's reaction to the night train was priceless. He kept saying, "You've got to be kidding me, Whose idea was this?" We were on the train from about 5pm until 8am the next morning. It was an experience none of us will ever forget!
24: Vienna Austria | After a long night on the night train, we were happy to be in Vienna! We had a wonderful first day sightseeing and an even better night at the opera house. Vienna is a city completely full of character and charm. | Schoenbrunn Palace | Danube River
25: Stephensplatz | Mozart statue in Burggarten Garden | Stephensplatz | Apparently they do things a little different in Europe notice our bus driver smoking inside the bus
26: Vienna Opera House | Vienna is the home of Mozart and is famous for music and opera. Unfortunately the opera was on tour when we were there but we were fortunate to see an orchestra dressed in era clothing perform along with special guest opera singers. It was a marvelous night!
27: Prague, Czech Republic | First Stop: Prague Castle
28: Prague, Czech Republic | Some Days We Were Just Tired Upon arrival to Prague, we first went to the beautiful Prague Castle. We spent a few hours there and then headed to Old Town. Erika, feeling exhausted got us lost on the way. By the time we got there we were all just tired. A good meal in the center of Old Town was the perfect cure. Old Town was stunningly beautiful. Our night ended with good conversation on Charles Bridge at sunset and then attending "The Black Theater," dancing and comedy under black lights. Prague was definitely a favorite stop! | Prague Castle
29: Old Town | Charles Bridge | Lunchtime Bee Solution | Black Light Theater
30: Prague, Czech Republic | The morning before we left we went to the Jewish Holocaust Museum. It was a very humbling experience to walk through the graveyard with numerous headstones of fallen innocent Jews during WWII. We grabbed some hot chocolate in a cute cafe and then caught yet another train ride to Germany. | The train rides were always filled with laughs, jokes, good stories, songs, and good times. Erika was always positively stoked if anyone else would take a turn reading the travel book. By the time we arrived in Bacharach, our 4th stop with Dad, somehow he had convinced us to carry his backpack. Thank heavens he brought a small one! | Finding Joy In The Journey...
31: Bacharach, Germany | Day 1: Boat Ride on the Rhine River
32: Bacharach, Germany
33: The city of Bacharach was a charming and relaxing stop. After spending many days in big cities, it was nice to be in a small town with fewer crowds of people. Bacharach consists of only a handful of streets surrounded by the majestic Rhine River, beautiful vineyards, and castle after castle. We had fun walking the quaint Bavarian streets, shopping for cuckoo clocks and other souvenirs, and enjoying a sit down meal. Angela and Erika enjoyed a peaceful stroll, good conversation, and laughs along the Rhine River while Dad took an opportunity to go to bed early. | Bacharach, Germany
34: Switzerland | Unforgettable Train Rides Some of our greatest memories come from riding the train. Most likely this was due to the fact that once we set foot on the train, we knew we had a few hours where all we had to worry about was having fun with each other. We didn't have to stress about where to go, finding a hotel, etc. Dad's dancing, singing "Sound of Music, and laughing until we cried will forever be cherished.
35: Lucerne, Switzerland Lucerne was a stopover for us on our way to Interlaken. Upon arriving Dad discovered he was suddenly unable to use his debit card. When he called his bank, he was informed that his card had been hacked after using it in an ATM in Venice. They agreed to quickly investigate the case but in the meantime he was unable to use his card. This put a definite damper on our trip for a few days. Dad was legitimately very concerned. Also he only had a limited amount of cash to last for the remainder of the trip if he were unable to get use of his card again. This was stressful for everyone as we all felt completely helpless. Also, as anyone knows, s stressed out and angry Dad would only lead to anxiety for everyone! Luckily, the bank worked things out in only a couple of days.
36: INTERLAKEN | We had heard so many wonderful things about Switzerland, we were anxious to get there. Unfortunately, the entire time we were there it was raining! We had hoped to take the tram ride to the Jungfrau Glacier but visibility was so bad, we were told it wouldn't be worth it. We did, however, make the most of our time in Interlaken and we all could agree it was one of our favorite stops. Angela and Erika took a beautiful boat ride from Interlaken to Lake Thun and returned on the train. This was followed by a delicious Swiss cheese fondue meal in a nice Swiss restaurant.
37: SWITZERLAND | Although we didn't make it to the Jungfrau, we were able to take a combination of trains and cable cars through high mountain valleys in Switzerland. We visited quaint, lovely villages such as Lauterbrunnen, Gimmelwald, and Murren. It was amazing eye candy to say the least!
38: The Trummelbach Falls are the world's only glacier waterfalls accessible underground by lifts, tunnels, paths, and platforms. They carry 20,000 liters of water per second making a thunderous rumble through these mountainous caves, truly an amazing sight to see! | TRUMMELBACH FALLS, SWITZERLAND
39: SCENIC SWITZERLAND | Interlaken Recreation Center | Due to the rainy weather in a town famous for outdoors attractions, we had to venture to the atypical tourist sites. Somehow Angela talked us into going to the Rec Center; initially only Angela was excited. We quickly learned that Swiss Rec Centers are not traditional rec centers, they are more like spas. We loved sitting in the hot tubs, steam rooms, and aromatic saunas. Also important to note is the clothing was non-traditional or should we say... optional! :) What an adventure this turned out to be!
40: WE CAME, WE SAW... | WE DIVIDED... | WE CONQUERED. | We were supposed to spend a full day and night in Fussen with the main attraction being a visit to the Neuschwanstein Castle, the castle which inspired the Disneyland Castle. We took the train approximately 6 hours out of the way to get there. When we arrived it was pouring rain. Dad decided he didn't care to see the castle and he stayed at the train station with all of our backpacks. | Fussen | Germany | Angela and Erika, determined to carry out this once in a lifetime chance took a taxi to the castle entrance. When we got there they informed us that they were having flooding and had closed the trail leading to the castle. Needless to say, we were sorely disappointed. We snapped a few pictures, went back to the station, and hopped a long train ride to our final destination, Munich.
41: The main entrance into Dachau Concentration Camp. | We learned so much about Dachau and its' role during the war with these audio recorders available in English. | Touring the camp brought many somber moments; moments of indescribable sympathy for the Jews who had once lived at the camp. | The Jourhouse with the international memorial in front. | MUNICH, GERMANY | After an unexpected long day of traveling and a good night's sleep, we were ready to explore our last new city, Munich. Our first stop was the most memorable of the entire trip, Dachau Concentration Camp. In the early years of WWII, it was the largest and most well known Jewish Camp. It is the only camp to have existed throughout the entire 12 years of Nazi rule.
42: Dachau Concentration Camp | This entire area once was consisted of barracks full of prisoners. All but one have been removed. The camp had capacity for 50,000+ | Hallway in the Maintenance Building. This building was used for prisoner kitchen, laundry, and prisoner registration | The Jourhouse. This was the main entrance and exit and SS personnel main office. | Gas Chambers. We will never forget the feelings we felt while standing in this hallowed place. | Incinerator Room. Upon liberation, countless corpses were found ready for cremation. Dachau could no longer keep up with the number of deaths. | Crematory. Each chamber was capable of holding two to three corpses. | Munich, Germany
43: The words "Arbeit Macht Frei" engraved on the door translated as "work will make you free." | Statue shows Jews on a death march out of Dachau | Tomb representing the thousands of unknown, unnamed fallen Jews | Erika taking some alone time walking the path through the pistol execution range and other memorial sites | DACHAU CONENCTRATION CAMP A site we will never forget... | Dachau was liberated by American troops in April 1945.
44: Munich Sightseeing | This was our final day of our trip in Munich. After spending a lot of time at Dachau, there was still a lot to see and not much time. Luckily, by this time we had gotten pretty good at cramming a lot in. We started by climbing the steps in St. Peters Church for breathtaking views of Munich. There were a lot of steps but it was well worth the walk! We then walked the streets of the main square taking in every last minute! | Marienplatz
45: MUNICH, GERMANY
46: Stuttgart | Will Harris, Chris Wollin & Simon Gavanda | Schlossplatz -Castle square
47: Landesmuseum Württemberg | Perkins Park Bar | Sky Beach @ Rooftop | S-Bahn
48: Cathédrale Saints-Michel-et-Gudule | Bruxelles, Belgique | La Grand Place | Eglise Saint Nicolas | Jeanneke Pis | Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert
49: Manneken Pis | Notre Dame du Sablon | Grand Place | Palais Royal | Palais de Justice
50: BRUGGE | Belgium | Belfort | The Dijver canal | The Basilica of the Holy Blood | The Provinciaal Hof
51: The Markt | Town Hall | Thijs Vanraes | The Beguinage | History Lesson By: Thijs | The Markt
52: Amsterdam, Netherlands | Red Light District | With Meke Vrienten | With Shula & Nadia | De Dampkring , cofeeshop | National Monument | With Xander Vrienten
53: The Waterhole | With Shula Tas & Meke | The Hash Marihuana Hemp Museum | Beginhof Convent | Eduard Douwes Dekker, Dutch writer | Narrowest house | Anne Frank House | Madame Tussauds @ Dam Square
54: Eurotrip 2009 | June 17 to August 29 10 Countrries, 28 Cities in 72 days | 1. Italy a. Cinque Terre b. Pisa c. Rome d. Florence e. Venice 2. Austria a. Vienna 3. Czech Republic a. Prague 4. Germany a. Bacharach b. Disney | 5. Switzerland a. Interlaken 8. Germany a. Munich