S: Europe May 2011
BC: Everyday and every place is a vacation with you.
FC: Europe May 2011
1: Time for Love in Paris! Erica + Kevin | Paris, France | We arrived in Paris on May 13th and checked into our hotel near the Luxembourg Gardens. After dropping off our bags we headed west towards the Eiffel Tower. Along the way we admired the amazing architecture of Paris and stopped at a small cafe for a quick lunch. After lunch we continued walking until we turned a corner and there she stood at 1,063 ft, the 'iron lady', for a moment we both just took in the scenery around us and the beautiful structure in front of us.
2: After climbing the Eiffel Tower we headed North towards the Champs- Elysees, with our first stop being the Arc de Triomphe. We were both amazed at how the cars circling around the round-a-bout surrounding the Arc de Triomphe were able to just miss each other every time. After admiring the Arc de Triomphe we headed for lunch at a café on the Champs – Elysees and took in the atmosphere of Paris and basked in all its glory. | Paris, France
3: At the end of the Champs – Elysees we found our selves walking along the Seine, after a little bit of a hunt we hoped on a boat tour. As we cruised along the river we admired the French culture - locals relaxing by the river with refreshments - and marveled at the view of the Eiffel Tower.
4: Paris, France | Paris, France | After some much needed sleep we were off to the Notre Dame first thing in the morning. No picture can articulate the true beauty of the Notre Dame with its vast size and perfectly detailed interior.
5: Next we headed up the right bank of the Seine until we reached the Louvre, inside of which houses the beautiful Mona Lisa, the sculpture of winged Victory and so much more. It would have probably taken us a month to see every inch of the museum.
6: Paris, France | After seeing the highlights of Paris we spent the afternoon on our last day walking around and taking in the culture of the city by enjoying a nice lunch at a cafe and then going for a walk through the Luxembourg Gardens.
7: After a busy and amazing two days in Paris, it was time to head south to beautiful Spain and to make our mark on Barcelona. So we paid our 24 euro each for our flight and off we went. . | Hi from Paris, It is amazing here. Love Kevin & Erica
8: After a good nights sleep we were ready to see what the second largest city in Spain had to offer. Our first stop in Barcelona was the cities most famous land mark the Sagrada Familia. This Basilica is a 130(+) year labour of love which was designed by Gaudi in 1880 and the design is focused on avoiding straight lines and right angles. Currently the building is projected to be completed in 2026, although I would not hold my breath. However, the size and uniqueness of the basilica truly is amazing. | Barcelona, Spain
9: We continued our walk through the city heading down Passeig de Gracia and continued to see buildings designed by Gaudi and marveled at the beauty and cleanliness of the city. At the end of the Passeig de Gracia we arrived at the Placa de Catalunya (city centre) and enjoyed watching the old men feed the birds. After being nearly pooped on by a bird it was time to head down Las Ramblas, a street lined with shops and cafes. | First stop was Starbucks to meet up with Mike and Vickie. One thing that we have come to realize while traveling is how small the world really is. What is the possibility of running into friends from San Diego in Barcelona? Pretty slim I would bet. After catching up and hearing from Mike and Vickie about their trip across the pond we parted ways sure to see each other somewhere soon again. We were both surprised by Barcelona and vowed we would be back.
11: Our home for 6 days was the Voyageur of the Seas. The ship was great we did everything onboard - Rock Climbing, Shuffle Board, Ice Skating, Basketball, Mini Putt, etc. After long days of walking around some of the most amazing European destinations we enjoyed a glass of wine while watching the sunset and then sneaked for a late night date in the hot tub. | Our dinner table was ‘entertaining’ to say the least, it is great to meet people from all walks of life even if they are a little crazy. The real entertainment on board was the nightly shows, which were all amazing but most notable the ice show which deserved a standing ovation.
12: Southern France Toulon | We got off the ship nice and early and took a ferry from the ship into the town of Toulon. Our first stop in Toulon was the farmers market which was filled with local fruits and vegetables. Luckily, the town was pretty small as the lack of street signs partnered with the crooked streets made it very difficult to navigate. However, on our adventures we found some very beautiful buildings and enjoyed the laid back lifestyle of Southern France. After covering the majority of the town we headed back to the ferry to go back to the ship, or so we thought!!! Due to the lack of signs we got on the wrong ferry and were headed to beautiful La Seyne-sur Mer.
13: La Seyne-sur Mer | Our unplanned detour to La Seyne-sur Mer was a great way to spend the afternoon. We walked around the old fort and dipped our toes in the warm Mediterranean Sea.
14: Pisa, Italy
15: The shipped docked early in the morning in Livorno, Italy where we got onto a train and headed towards the town of Pisa. After a short train ride we got off the train and enjoyed a nice walk through the town as we headed towards the leaning Tower of Pisa. Pictures do not do justice to how slanted the tower truly is.
16: Florence Italy | After spending the morning in Pisa we got back on the train and headed to Florence. We walked through a local market which sold beautiful leather goods and knock off designer purses. After we narrowly avoided spending all our money on leather products we headed to the Piazza della Signoria, which was a beautiful open air museum.
17: Next stop was Palazzo Vecchio, the town hall of Florence. After taking in the scenery, we headed toward the water to see the Ponte Vecchio, which is the only bridge in Italy to surive World War II. After admiring the outside of the bride we window shopped the fine jewelry stores located on the bridge. | Ponte Vecchio | Piazza della Signoria
18: The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore is one of Italy's largest churches, and until the modern era, the dome was the largest in the world. It remains the largest brick dome ever constructed. The inside of the Basilica was just as amazing as the outside. We decided to take the 400 stairs up the bell tower, which on a hot day in Florence was quite a task. However, the view from the top was 100% worth the climb, it is amazing that all of the roofs in Florence are the same red brick. | Florence Italy
20: Rome | Our first stop in Rome was Palatine Hill, which according to Roman mythology, Romulus founded the city of Rome on this hill in 800 BC. The Hill is littered with ruins of ancient palaces. The main path of Palatine Hill lead us straight to the Arch of Titus which is one of the two remaining arches of the Roman Empire. It was built to commemorate the capture of Jerusalem over the Jewish Zealots. The detail on the arch was amazing. | Palatine Hill
21: We then continued through the ancient Roman Empire to the Roman Forum. We both had to use our imagination to understand how the few ruins that remain today were once amazing buildings that housed government offices and local markets. | Roman Forum
22: Rome | No visit to Rome is complete without a trip to the magnificent Coliseum. The size and magnitude of the Coliseum took our breath away. We were both in awe not by just the sight of the Coliseum but also by the amazing history that took place there. It is crazy to think that even though the structure is so amazing today, we were just looking at a black and white skeleton of what had been full of color. As beautiful as the Coliseum is, it was also a bit humbling. Roughly half a million people died in the Coliseum and entire populations of some animals became virtually extinct just to provide entertainment to Roman emperors.
24: Rome Italy | Trevi Fountain | Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele | To ensure that we would someday returned to the beautiful city of Rome we threw our coin into Trevi Fountain.
25: Spanish Steps | Spanish Steps | Ciao
26: We did a lot of planning for our trip, however, one thing we did not plan for was to see the Pope as we entered Vatican City. It was a great surprise and seeing thousands of people in the square sitting quietly listening to the Pope give a sermon was truly moving. | Vatican
27: St. Peter's Basilica
28: Messina | Italy | Mt Etna | Approaching Sicily was another highlight of the trip. We woke up early in the morning as we passed by the Island of Stromboli and watched the steam coming out of the active volcano. After passing by the island we headed towards the Strait of Messina which separates the mainland of Italy and the Island of Sicily, in the distance we could see the tallest active volcano in Europe, Mt. Etna. It truly was beautiful and something that we could wake up to everyday.
29: The ship docked in the beautiful city of Messina, Sicily. Even though we were not far from the big cities of mainland Italy, the city of Messina seemed much more relaxed and laid back. So we enjoyed the more laid back culture of Messina by kicking our feet up and enjoying a nice stroll around the city.
30: Messina | After enjoying walking around Messina we headed to what the town has become most famous for - The Clock Tower of Messina. The Clock Tower is the largest astronomical clock in the world.
31: Italy | At noon we enjoyed watching all the statues on the tower come to life. What made this experience so great was the 100’s of kids from a local school that were there to watch it.
32: Venice, Italy | Regardless how much we read about Venice prior to this trip nothing could prepare us for how unique Venice was. They city is really built on water, boats replace cars and trucks are replaced with wheelborrows.
33: By not having cars rushing around us, we immediately found Venice a lot more relaxing then other European cities. We took the ferry to St. Mark’s square and spent the rest of the day just getting lost. The city itself is a sight to see, and we loved having no agenda and just exploring this amazing city.
34: Our next seven nights were spent aboard the Norwegian Jade, We relaxed more on this ship and spent a lot of time on our large balcony as we sailed by the Croatian and Greek Islands.
36: Dubrovnik, Croatia | Our first stop in Croatia was the beautiful city of Dubrovnik. In the walls and mountains surrounding the city was evidence of shelling from the war in 1991. After tendering into the port we climbed the city walls that had once been used to protect the city.
37: After walking the city walls we decided to head up the mountain via cable car to see the city from above. The view from where the cities look-out point had previously been, was absolutely stunning. We both just sat there and enjoyed the view of the walled city and the crystal clear water below.
38: Dubrovnik, Croatia
39: We headed back down the cable car to explore the grounds of the beautiful city. However, before enjoying the rest of Dubrovnik we stopped at a cafe for a nice cold beer. After being hydrated we explored the rest of the city and even made friends with five beautiful parrots.
40: Athens | Greece | Athens is an ancient city in the true sense of the word, with 3000 years of history and historical temples around every corner that are devoted to Greek gods. Our first stop was the place where classical Greek civilization began and the site of a collection of beautiful temples, Acropolis and Parthenon. The sheer beauty and size of the buildings were something you have to see to believe. Also, the beautiful view of the city below was a great back drop to the ancient artifacts in front of us.
42: Athens | Greece | After soaking in the view, we headed down the side of the Acropolis toward the Temple of Zeus. | After making our way through the Arch of Hadrian, which in ancient times separated the ancient city and the Roman city of Athens, we arrived at one of the seven wonders of the ancient word - the Temple of Zeus. | Originally there had been 104 Corinthian columns that made up the temple, however today only 15 remain standing and one laying down on the ground, unmoved from when it feel in 1852.
43: The Temple of Olympian Zeus
44: Athens | Greece | Next stop was to see where the Olympics all started in 1896. The Ancient Greek stadium has been reconstructed from the remains of the ancient stadium and is the only major stadium in the world built entirely of white marble.
46: Ephesus, Turkey | Our next stop was the crossroads to Europe and Asia, the beautiful country of Turkey. Our primary stop in Turkey was the ancient city of Ephesus. The history of Ephesus goes back to over 1000BC and is the second largest ancient city, ranking only behind Rome. Ephesus had a population of more than 250,000 in the 1st century BC, which also made it the second largest city in the world at the time. Not much has changed in our lives since late BC and early AD when Ephesus was populated, we still go to big theatres to watch entertainment, homes are still decorated with beautiful color paint, we still go to the spa and have libraries in every city. However, one thing that has changed is that we don’t have slaves to warm up the toilet seats for us and most man don’t socialize while using the bathroom.
48: Ephesus, Turkey | After visiting Ephesus we headed to lunch at a place that makes Turkish rugs. It was amazing to see the amount of time and patience that is required to make a small rug. Our final stop in Turkey was the Temple of Artemis, completed in 550 BC and one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
50: Split | Croatia | In Split we spent the morning walking around the beautiful old city and headed up to the Statue of Grgur Ninski and rubbed his toe which is said to bring good luck.
52: "A vacation is having nothing to do and all day to do it in." | SHOP | DRINK | EAT | Split, Croatia | We decided to take the afternoon to relax and enjoy the beauty and culture of Split First, we went shopping in the market and bargained for a new purse.
53: RELAX | After being shopped out we headed to a café by the water for a beer and to watch the Harley Davidson bike rally that was in town. Finally, we took a stroll along the picturesque water front with gelato’s in hand. | LOVE
54: "Believe in happily ever after, and it will come true" | He asked...
55: TWO PEOPLE, TWO HEARTS, TWO LIVES, BECOME ONE HEART, ONE MIND, ONE NEW LIFE TOGETHER. | She said Yes! | This is a re-enactment. The real proposal happened the night before as the sun was setting and we were sailing out of Croatia.
56: Back in Venice, Italy | LOVE | Erica + Kevin
57: We were very happy that we came back to Venice because one day was just not enough. The aim of our 2nd day in Venice was to get lost and that is exactly what we did. | BEAUTIFUL
58: Venice | Italy | We finally found ourselves in St. Mark's Square with a bottle of champagne in hand to celebrate our engagement. We decided to ignore the signs saying no eating or drinking in the square and enjoyed our bottle of champagne while feeding the pigeons. It was a great way to end the trip and celebrate our engagement. | FOREVER
60: Flying over Germany | Flight from Venice to Munich | Flight back to Canada | The view out of the plane window as we flew over the Alps was breathtaking
61: Our final stop of the trip was Munich. | As we boarded our final flight back to Canada we both agreed that our trip to Europe truly was amazing!