S: Our Trip to Europe
BC: Once in a lifetime trip that we will never forgot.
FC: European Adventure 2011
1: 6/12 Sunday in London After a long plane ride we finally arrived in London. Our Globus representative met us and we took a 40 minute ride to our hotel, the Westminster Park Plaza Bridge Hotel. We were exhausted from our travels and losing one night's sleep due to the timing of our flight, but all the guide books suggest going about your day so you can get acclimated with the time change. So we set out for the rainy streets of London with Starbucks in hand. On our walk we were able to see the London Eye, a massive Ferris wheel built to celebrate the Millenium, and Big Ben, the famous clock tower attached to Parliament. After our walk we took a much needed nap. After we woke we walked across the Waterloo Bridge and went into the theatre district of London. The buildings were very elegant, with tons of character. That evening we ate at the Global Cafe. JV had a chicken sandwich with a fried egg on top (a common menu option) and I ate fish and chips (fish skin and bones included).
2: 6/13 Monday Afternoon in London Today we met a Globus tour guide and we took a city tour of London. Our first stop was Saint Paul's Cathedral. It is a massive church with beautiful woodwork, detailed paintings on the ceiling, and eye-catching glass mosaic artwork. St. Paul's Cathedral dates to the 17th century and was designed by Christopher Wren. It has also been host to many historic services such as the funeral of Winston Churchill and The Duke of Wellington, as well as the wedding of Charles and Diana. Our second stop of the day was Buckingham Palace. The Palace was gorgeous and it was exciting to see the red coated guards march down the streets for the changing of the guards. Our third stop of the day was Piccadilly Circus, London's version of Time Square. We then walked down Regent Street where there were countless high end shops and people flooding the streets.
6: 6/13-Monday Evening in London Monday night we took a cab to Carnaby Street, which is right off of Piccadilly Circus. We walked down to Trafalgar Square and took in the sites of beautiful sculptures, a massive water fountain, and tons of people enjoying the beautiful evening. From there we headed to the Sherlock Holmes Pub to have a few drinks and eat the best cream of mushroom soup ever! We walked the city and had a late diner at a Turkish restaurant of chicken kabobs and falafel.
8: 6/14-Tuesday at the train station | BRUSSELS
9: We met our Globus reps and headed for the train station. We took a train to Brussels, Belgium.
10: 6/14-Tuesday in Brussels Once we arrived in Brussels we took a walking tour of the city. We came across The Grand Place, a beautiful square filled with shops, restaurants, an ornate church, and a beautiful museum. After admiring the gorgeous scenery we walked a bit further down the cobblestone streets and rubbed the golden statue of Everhard't Serclaes, a good luck tradition, and viewed the statue of Manneken Pis, the peeing boy. After our tour was complete we headed to our non-air conditioned room and immediately headed back to The Grand Place. There we enjoyed drinks, a Belgium waffle smothered in chocolate and strawberries, and the beautiful views. That evening we had a late dinner, typical in Europe, with the sun shining above. Shockingly, this time of year it is not completely dark until 11:00 pm. Brussels was beautiful!
13: Upon arriving in Amsterdam we met a boat to take a canal cruise through the city. Although it was raining, we were able to see many sights; beautiful homes built along the water front, thousands of bike riders, endless canals, and unique shops and restaurants. We did a ton of walking that day, taking in the amazing scenery, completing an audio tour of the Van Gogh Museum, and visiting the Anne Frank House. It was an exhausting but fulfilling day. | 6/15 - Wednesday afternoon in Amsterdam
14: 6/15 - Wednesday evening in Amsterdam We walked the city, ate pizza and salad at a restaurant with amazing views of the city, and had a few drinks before heading back to the hotel. While the day was a bit gloomy, the evening was gorgeous so we made the most of it.
16: 6/16 - Thursday's stopover in Cologne, Germany
17: This afternoon we made an hour long stop in Cologne to appreciate the detailed work of this massive, gothic Cathedral.
18: 6/16 - Thursday on the Rhine River Cruise Our next stop was the Rhine River Cruise. It was a bit rainy and cloudy at the start, but the clouds eventually opened up and allowed for gorgeous views. | Germany
20: 6/16 - Thursday afternoon in Heidelberg, Germany | We were able to make a brief stopover in Heidelberg. It was a quaint little town with beautiful architecture and Roman Ruins perched above the town.
22: 6/17 - Friday We rose early and headed to Lucerne, but made a few stops along the way. The first stop over we made was a cuckoo clock store in the Black Forest, receiving its name because the trees are so thick the base of the trees received little sunlight, creating a darkness at the base of the tress.
23: Driving through the Black Forest was amazing!
25: 6/17 Friday at the Rhine Falls Our scenic journey through the Black Forest led us to the spectacular Rhine Falls. We were lucky enough to enjoy lunch with a great view.
26: 6/17 - Friday at the top of Mount Pilatus We took the steepest cog rail in the world, at a 45 degree angle, to the top of Mount Pilatus. At the top of this 7,000 foot mountain we were able to enjoy a panoramic view over Lake Lucerne. On our way down we took a cable car, a bit scary but gorgeous!
28: 6/17 - Friday night in Lucerne Friday was filled with amazing sites and adventures, and to top it off we had an amazing hotel in Lucerne with a view that looked over Lake Lucerne and Mount Pilatus. After settling in to our room, we took a walk along the lake to the downtown area. There we had a traditional dinner of bratwurst with an onion sauce and potatoes, YUM! We also sampled some beers from a popular micro-brew with a great atmosphere.
30: Lion Monument: memorial for the Swiss guards massacred protecting King Louis XVI | 6/18 - Saturday in Lucerne We had a very relaxing day, which was much needed. At 11:15 we met our tour group for an hour cruise along Lake Lucerne. It was a rainy afternoon, which made for poor visibility, but enjoyable boat ride. After the boat ride we did some shopping, sampled Swiss fondue, and visited the Lion Monument. That evening we had a nice dinner with the group at the hotel, had drinks on the terrace which overlooked Mount Pilatus, and took one last walk along the water's edge so we could enjoy the gorgeous views.
33: 6/19 Sunday in Liechtenstein and Innsbruck Sunday we were headed to Munich but had two stops along the way. We made a quick stopover in Liechtenstein to appreciate this small country with beautiful views of the Alps. Next we hopped back on the coach and headed to Innsbruck, a scenic town with ornate buildings and panoramic views of the Alps. Innsbruck also had an endless courtyard filled with unique shops, which we took advantage of, and outdoor cafes and restaurants. | Innsbruck, Tyrol | Vaduz, Liechtenstein
34: 6/19 Sunday evening in Munich While we had a long day of traveling, there was so much to see and do. We took a quick driving tour through Munich before heading to the hotel to wash up for our evening at the Hofbrauhaus. | Isar Gate | BMW Headquarters | 1972 Summer Olympics | Parliament | Nike Statue | Rathaus, the new town hall
35: Sunday night we visited the Hofbrauhaus, a famous beer hall filled with everything German: food, beer, outfits, artwork, and music. The establishment was giant but filled to capacity with patrons filling in the wooden benches. The beers were served in 1 liter glasses, which I could barely lift to my mouth. It was a great time, with wonderful atmosphere!
36: 6/20 Monday in Salzburg It was a rough start to our morning, too much fun from the night before, but a quick nap on the bus took us to our first stop for the day, Salzburg. There we were led by a local tour guide through the gorgeous Mirabell Gardens, where a few scenes from The Sound of Music were shot, past the home of Mozart, whose memory is very prominent in the town, and around Saint Peter's Church, which had beautiful statues and an ornate cemetery around it. After our tour we ate at a small pizza shop in the town square, enjoying the views of Salzburg.
38: 6/20 - Monday evening in Vienna During the late afternoon we drove through the Danube Valley and made our way to Vienna. We quickly got ready for the evening and went out for an excursion with the Globus tour. We drove through the thick and windy Vienna Woods and stopped at a vineyard that overlooked the city-WOW! From there we went to a nearby wine village and ate at a traditional Viennese restaurant that was covered with grape vines on the outside and unique, antique decor on the inside. At dinner we had a huge platter of traditional meats, potatoes, and sauerkraut, bottomless wine and beer, and 2 musicians playing an accordion and violin. We had a wonderful time!
40: 6/21 - Tuesday in Vienna We started the day with a bus tour of Vienna. Many of the sites we saw during our illuminations tour the evening before, but it was nice to see them once again during the light of day. We also took a walking tour through park of the city as well. While we saw many things, the highlights of our tour included seeing the popular Ferris wheel in Prater Park, the State Opera House which is a favorite of tourist, the Jewish quarter, the Hofburg Palace, and Saint Stephen's Cathedral. At the completion of our tour we ventured through the town, exploring its many sites. Eventually we made our way to two famous museums of Vienna, The Art History Museum and The Natural History Museum. These buildings were built by the Hapsburgs for the sole purpose of being museums. We spent about two hours in the Art History Museum appreciating the building itself, the classical Renaissance paintings and busts, and the Greek and Roman art. That evening we relaxed at our hotel. We had drinks on the terrace that overlooked the Danube River and had a nice dinner, white asparagus included!
42: Vienna's Art History Museum
45: 6/22 - Wednesday on our way to Venice While we were not looking forward to the long drive, the views more than made up for it. The drive was so scenic, making for a beautiful drive across the Semmering Pass. We made a quick stop for lunch, tomato and mozzarella salad, at a restaurant overlooking a gorgeous lake on the border of Slovenia.
46: 6/22 - Wednesday in Venice Upon arriving in Venice our bus dropped us off so we could grab a water taxi. We cruised down the Grand Canal, which made for amazing views of the city, and we were dropped off near Saint Mark's Square. From there we walked through the city until arriving at our restaurant where we had grilled veggies, bean soup, meat lasagna, sea bass, tiramisu, and wine. While dinner was wonderful, walking around Saint Marks and our taxi ride was even better because we were able to enjoy the atmosphere of the city.
48: 6/23 - Thursday in Venice This morning we woke early to catch a private boat to Murano, which is famous for its glass. Once again the boat ride was amazing, with its beautiful views, but very slow. We learned that the boats have speed limits in the open waters. Once we arrived at Murano we saw a glass blowing demonstration. I was shocked to see how quickly and precise the men have to work. We also had the chance to view the glass art; all very beautiful and expensive. Next we took a guided tour through the city of Venice. The city itself was once a lagoon, but the Venetians built up a wooden platform from the base of the lagoon. From there Venice grew, but due to its lack of support and the damage from the salt water, many of the buildings are leaning or damaged. Looking past the flaws is simple due to all the beauty the city has to offer.
50: Doges' Palace | St. Mark's Square and Basilica
51: That afternoon and evening we explored the island through shops, restaurants, drinks in the courtyard, gelato, and a gondola ride. We walked from Venice back to the bus station, passing over countless bridges and enjoying the unique history of Venice.
52: 6/24 Friday on our way to Rome We had another long drive ahead of us so we made a stopover in Ferrara. There we visited the Este Castle and had a bit of free time to wonder the city. JV and I grabbed a coffee and enjoyed the view of the city.
53: Once arriving in Rome we settled into our hotel room. Before going out for the night we did some much needed laundry, not the greatest part of our trip, but makes you appreciate your washing machine and dryer at home.
54: 6/24 Friday evening in Rome Friday night we went to an Italian restaurant where we were served a four course meal with bottomless drinks. The meal was good and the entertainment was interesting to say the least. After dinner we visited Saint Peters Square and the Basilica by night. It was gorgeous to see the buildings illuminated at night. | Mr. and Mrs. Fiss 722 North Charles Belleville, IL 62220
56: 6/25 Saturday morning in Rome Saturday was a full day of site seeing. There was so much to see and do, and we tried to fit it all in. Our morning first stop was the Roman Forum, the center of Rome long ago.
57: New Rome was built on top of old Rome, therefore the ruins lie below ground level. It was amazing to see all the relics of the past!
58: Our next stop was the Colosseum. It was so exciting to see it in person and amazing how well preserved they have kept it.
60: We visited the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel next. tapestries that covered every inch of the Museum and Sistine spectacular, and it was so exciting to view such a famous piece of
61: There we were able to see the detailed paintings, statues, and Chapel. Each painting appeared to pop out at you, the color was art history.
62: Saint Peter's Basilica
63: We continued walking and arrived at St. Peter's Basilica. Here we were able to see St. Peter's tomb and the Pieta, a famous sculpture of Mary and Jesus created by Michelangelo.
64: 6/25 Saturday afternoon in Rome We grabbed a quick nap and much needed dip in the pool before we began our afternoon tour. We started at the Spanish steps, which was a gift from the French to the Italians. Next we visited the massive Trevi Fountain, a world renowned Baroque fountain. We continued our walking tour to the temple of the Gods, the Pantheon. The final stop of our tour was the Piazza Navona. In ancient times competitions were held in this square, but today people gather to relax and socialize. | Spanish Steps
65: Trevi Fountain
67: Piazza Navona
68: 6/26 Sunday afternoon in Florence
69: We started the day learning about fine Italian leather...I'm still not sure I could tell the difference. Then we met our local tour guide and took a walking tour of Florence. Our first stop was the Galleria dell'Accademia, which is where Michelangelo's David statue is located. The detail of this marble statue is unreal! His eyes were so life-like, there were veins that were popping out, and he had muscle definition throughout his body. It was unbelievable to think that someone was able to create this so long ago. Our second stop of the day was Giotto's'Bell Tower, a cathedral in Florence. It was an enormous church with beautiful detail. Directly across from the church was the Gate of Paradise, which were gorgeous, heavy-bronze, detailed doors.
70: A copy of David | Next we visited Signoria Square, which was covered with sculptures.
71: Perseus with the head of Medusa | The Square with the Fountain of Neptune to the right | Hercules and Cacus
72: We left Florence and headed to Montecatini Sunday, late afternoon. Upon arriving we settled into our room, ate dinner with our Globus group in the hotel, and then spent the evening in town enjoying the nightlife. We spent most of our time at a bar with live music with some of the tour group.
74: Who knew I was so strong? | 6/27 Monday morning we stopped in Pisa to see the Leaning Tower
76: 6/27 Monday evening in Nice We drove from Pisa to Nice and had amazing views along the way. Once we arrived at our hotel we quickly changed and went to dinner with our tour group. The meal was wonderful but the views of the French Riviera, as you can see below, were even better!
78: 6/28 Tuesday in Nice We woke up to take a short walking tour of the city of Nice. After the tour we took the coach to Saint Paul de Vence, a picturesque fishing village in France. It was a hill-top village surrounded by a stone wall. The pathways were covered with cobble stone and stone edging. Inside the town were beautiful buildings with unique shops. Most shops were filled with art work, which was interesting because many famous artist of the past, such as Renoir and Chagall, came to paint in this village.
80: 6/28 Tuesday evening in Nice After returning from our tours we spent a few hours relaxing on the beach. The water was a beautiful, turquoise blue, but the beach was made of rock...OUCH! In the evening we had drinks at a near-by roof top bar that overlooked the city. Later that evening we walked through the city and enjoyed dinner at a delicious Italian restaurant.
82: 6/29 Wednesday afternoon in Avignon We made a lunch stop on our long ride to Lyon in Avignon. The town had a city wall that was really well preserved, a draw bridge that led out to a river, and in the center was a papal palace where popes lived long ago. We grabbed salads at an outdoor restaurant and had some yummy gelato.
85: 6/29 Wednesday's comfort stop (aka potty break) On our comfort stop on Wednesday late afternoon the group was rewarded with wine or soft drinks for the champion of the tunnel counting contest, Alyssa. She counted the 169 1/2 tunnels we passed through to get into France from Italy correctly. | Take 1 | Take 2
86: 6/30 Thursday afternoon at the Louvre Thursday morning we finally made it to Paris. After settling into our room we took a tour of the Louvre. There are over 35,000 pieces of art on display here. While we did see some interesting pieces, the 1 1/2 hours we spent there only gave us a taste of what it has to offer. It is an amazing place and beautifully built. | Paris
88: 6/30 Thursday evening in Montmartre and Paris Thursday evening we took the coach to the outskirts of Paris and rode a train to Montmartre. This small piece of Paris sits on a large hilltop that overlooks the bustling city, which made for stunning views. We walked around a bit, ate onion soup for dinner, and had a few drinks and enjoyed the views. To get down from this hilltop we took a funicular back down just in time to see a man practicing for the highest jump recorded on roller skates...some people were not impressed, but I thought it was pretty exciting! Next we took the illuminations tour through Paris. We were able to see many of the top tourist attractions, the Opera, the Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, and Champs-Elysees, lit up against the night sky. To top off the evening we pushed through the traffic and made it to the Eiffel Tower for the light show that is put on every hour. Our hotel was a few blocks from the Eiffel Tower, so we took advantage of the light show each night.
90: 7/1 Friday morning in Paris We spent the morning seeing many of the same sites we saw the night before on our illumination tour. It was great to get a chance to see Paris and all it has to offer during the day as well as the night.
92: 7/1 Friday afternoon in Paris We spent the early afternoon at the top of the Eiffel Tower. The stunning design detail of the Tower looks as if it is made of lace, which makes you appreciate it even more. | Eiffel Tower
95: 7/1 Friday afternoon in Paris Our next stop was the Palace of Versailles, home to many kings and queens of the past, most famously Marie Antoinette and King Louis XVI. There was beautiful artwork, furniture, and wood carving throughout, but my favorite was the gardens, simply BEAUTIFUL! I wish I had 40 gardeners to maintain my yard. | The Hall of Mirrors | The Gorgeous Gardens
96: 7/1 Friday evening in Paris Friday night we went to The Moulin Rouge to eat and see a show. While the show was a bit cheesy, we didn't want to pass on the opportunity.
97: 7/2 Saturday in Paris While our tour ended, JV had talked me into staying one more day in Paris when we initially booked the trip, and I am so glad we did. There is so much to see and do in Paris! We took the Batobus, a water taxi that makes 7 stops to popular attractions along the Seine. We rode it from the Eiffel Tower, which was right next to our hotel, to our first stop, the Musee d'Orsay.
98: The Musee d'Orsay is a modern impressionist museum filled with the works of famous artist such as Paul Cezanne, Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, and Vincent van Gogh. This was our favorite museum we visited the entire trip!
99: We hoped back onto the Batobus, passed St-Germain-Des-Pres, and stopped at Notre Dame Cathedral. We were able to go inside the church after a short wait in line. After the Cathedral we walked around the Latin Quarters for some time before walking over the bridge to a stop on the Batobus, the Hotel De Ville. From that stop we passed the Louvre and Champs-Elysees before heading back to the Eiffel Tower. We had a wonderful last day in Paris and topped it off by having a nice dinner in eye shot of the Eiffel Tower...including escargot.