Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Florence was my favorite city. There was no metro system to learn, as everything was in walking distance. Unlike Rome, Paris, and London, Florence was soooo clean! It was beautiful. Even the view from our hotel room was enchanting. It was out of a storybook with the clothes lines, green shutters, and red roof tiles.
Our room was lovely. We even had our own bidet right at the foot of our bed. The toilet and shower were in a separate room that was shared with the rest of the floor. But it was a small hotel, and we never even saw anyone else, so the bathroom-sharing was no problemo.
Florence was home to the best geltato ever! We had our very first taste of it in Rome right across from the Pantheon, but Florence topped them all. It was the perfect mix of creaminess. We tried all sorts of flavors from tiramisu to mint to blood orange. I'm sad that we were to busy stuffing our faces with it every chance we got that we didn't even take pictures of it! Of course I couldn't have cared less at the time...the only thing that mattered was savoring the gelato before it melted in the Italian sun.
On our first day, we went and explored the city and came across the Duomo. Brunelleschi had to build the dome out of bricks due to its light weight compared to stone. He was commissioned to build the largest dome in the world and though that's obviously not the case anymore with new architectural technologies, the Duomo is still the largest masonry dome in the world.

I literally could not stop looking at it. Something about it just seemed so awe-inspiring. That's kinda cheesy--and not all of Italy was sublime and romantic and other-worldly--but something about the Duomo really spoke to me. I was so mad when I saw that Andy had taken this picture because it's, well, it's kind of weird (and I had burned my bangs with a curling iron in London due to a bad outlet converter, so they were poofy and frayed for a lot of our trip). But I didn't delete it because it captured my genuine wonder of the building.

After we explored the city (and ate our weight in gelato), we walked down to the Medici chapel. It was in a beautiful courtyard filled with replicas of famous sculptures.
That's the best photographic evidence we have of "David" and the others. The originals are housed in the Uffizi Gallery (which we went to the next day) and the Accademia, but they don't allow cameras. We even had to go through security where they make you check your bag...so no sneaking pictures...at either place.
Our next stop was Poncho Vecchio. It's a beautiful bridge that houses a ton of luxury shops. I was drooling at all the window displays. Jewelry stores lined both sides and I couldn't fathom the kind of money people dropped to shop there.

We loved the view of the river that ran through Florence so we took lots of pictures of it. We got really good at holding the camera out at an angle that put us both in the frame. Some turned out better than others.

Our last stop before we headed to Venice (I'm posting these backwards because of photo accessibility), was the Duomo at night. We had a tragic mishap at Versailles and our camera was dropped and subsequently...broke. We had to buy a new one in Paris and we spent a lot of the trip learning how to use it. The flash was a little weird, so we decided to play around with it in front of the Duomo.
Our first attempt was less than successful. I will have to put this into photoshop and see if I can lighten it.
The second try was a little better, but it still came across as too bright.
But there is a reason they say "third time's a charm."

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Europe Part 1: Venezia!

Yes! We finally have a valid Internet connection and a new laptop. I feel like such a slacker since we've been back from Europe for almost two months now and I haven't posted a single picture...anywhere.

After loading our pictures onto our (new!) laptop, I realized that blogging about 2000 pics would be ridiculously tedious, not to mention horribly boring. So with that in mind, I decided to post pictures according to each city we visited so hopefully I'll only be boring people with relevant pictures of our backpacking adventure.

The last city on our trip was Venice, Italy (I'm going backwards because these are the pictures that are most easily accessible). If we look really grungy and smelly, it's because we are. Living out of a backpack is surprisingly difficult. We rotated four or five outfits and hand washing really takes a toll on clothes! The hope is that we'll look better, more put together during later pictures.

This is the glass bridge that you can cross to enter the actual city of Venice. We didn't stay on the island because of the outrageous prices...and we were on a budget.

We saw incredible architecture in the buildings, bridges, and parks. It was impossible to take pictures of everything, but we tried our best. I had heard from others that had been to Venice that the city was dirty and stinky. I wholeheartedly disagree. The city had an old world charm full of what was once Venetian opulence. It was once the richest city in the world. The pealing paints and scuffed walls only added to the testament of its character. The pigeons, however, were dirty and stinky...and aggressive. As you may or may not know, I have a fear of birds. So me+mean birds+an open courtyard by the sea=worst nightmare ever.

I was quite enraptured by the gondolas, as they kind of represented a mythical creature or something. You grow up hearing about them, but you never actually see one. We didn't get a chance to ride one because they were about $130 an hour. Now that we're back from Europe and not totally broke, I think I would have liked to spend that money for the experience. Ah well, ces la vie. The gondolas, the water, the character of the city really to make Venice the most romantic place in the world. After seeing museum after museum for three weeks, Andy and I decided to spend money on a candlelight dinner on the canal and a baroque opera (the photographic evidence of which are temporarily missing). The dinner was three courses of deliciousness. I had a grilled salmon, spaghetti, roasted veggies and a chocolate mouse. Andy opted for the roasted chicken, vinaigrette salad, and lasagna with the same dessert. When we were finishing the started pouring rain. It was almost like a fairy tale where you have this amazing, romantic day ending with kissing in the rain.

Only our fairy tale ended with us running a mile in the pouring rain to catch our bus. But we laughed almost the whole way, until we got lost and had to back track. Then we were grumpy. Then we were laughing at how ridiculous the whole situation was. It was a fitting end to our three week trip.

Next Up: Florence