Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Pizza, Gelato, and the Rest of Italy

Nate and I finally made it down to Italy last week and experienced a place that I would say is truly different from the rest of Europe that we have seen. The entire time we were there it was hot and humid, but that didn't stop us from doing all the things we had gone down there to do. We flew into Rome Sunday night and got up early the next morning to see as much of ancient Rome as we could. We started with a tour at the Colosseum as an archaeologist told us about the different layers, how they brought the gladiators into the Colosseum, and showed us where the lifts in the floor were to bring the animals in. Once we were done exploring the Colosseum we moved on to the Roman Forum which looks like a relic graveyard, there are bits of columns, temples, signs, and other buildings everywhere. With a little imagination and help from a pamphlet we were able to piece together what we saw to get an idea of what it would have looked like in the prime of the Roman Empire. From there we walked over to the Pantheon to see the feat of ancient engineering that is the dome, then to Trevi Fountain with the hordes of people tossing in coins with hopes of returning to Rome one day (naturally we joined in as well), and then to the Spanish Steps where we sat with tons of others to take a break and do some people watching. We spent a good portion of the day just wandering through the main part of Rome which made us realize just how old Rome is. There are bits of relics at various points throughout the city and even the streets themselves have that old feeling. That night we went back out onto the streets to see the monuments lit up (we had some fun taking pictures of ourselves using different camera settings as you can see in the picture a little lower) and wandered through the street vendors selling everything from mini statues of the Colosseum to a calendar with pictures of different Catholic priests which I didn't buy but did take a picture of and got more than one chuckle because of. The Piazzas come to life at night so after dinner we got some gelato and sat around watching the various street performers and the people watching them. Speaking of gelato, it's our new favorite thing and I don't think we'll ever be able to eat regular ice cream again. We got gelato every single night, sometimes multiple times, the best gelato being some that we got at the end of the week down on the coast. If you ever go to Italy don't forget to eat gelato. On Tuesday we took the metro over to Vatican city and waited in the long line to get in to the museum so that we could see the Sistine chapel. I have to make note to you guys that while in the states a line is somewhat single file or at least a few people wide, a line in Europe is more along the lines of a moving crowd. We waited about an hour and a half smashed between people to get inside, but the Sistine chapel and the rest of the art inside the museum was worth it. After we had spent a few hours inside the museum we went over to St. Peter's Basilica and wandered around. It's an amazing church and supposedly has a great view from the top, but after everything we'd already done we were far to tired to stand in line for another hour or so just to get to walk up a ton of steps.
On Wednesday we said goodbye to Rome and got on a train to Naples where we then got on another train to go to Sorrento and the Amalfi coast. When we got to the hotel in Sorrento we found out that we were staying at an old time British resort hotel. It was a different kind of culture shock because everyone spoke English but we've never stayed in a hotel where everything is gold and turquoise and all the people that work there wear white dinner coats and bow ties, I liken it to what hotels in America used to look like in the 50s and 60s (not that I'm old enough to have seen them, but I did take a history of travel and tourism in America class so I have an image in my head). Needless to say we had a lot of fun laying by the pool during the ridiculously hot days we experienced down there, which is about all we did on Wednesday afternoon. That evening we got up and wandered through the town of Sorrento which is a little tourist town full of little trinket shops and a beautiful view of the Mediterranean Sea.

The next day we got up early and caught a bus down to the Amalfi coast. The bus drove right along the cliff for an amazing view of the houses that were built into it and the water down below. Despite the view, the ride was a little crazy on the narrow cliff road with the bus driver honking at everybody and having to negotiate sharp turns and buses passing by the other way. When we got to Amalfi we wandered through some shops but had some time to kill before our boat ride back to Sorrento so we found a public beach (which is easier said then down in Europe where most of the beaches are private and you have to pay for a spot) and went down to the water. Being the ever prepared beach girl I had worn my bathing suit, just in case the opportunity presented itself, and went straight into the water to cool down. Nathan on the other hand decided against wearing his bathing suit and decided he didn't want to get his shorts wet (a decision he later regretted thanks to the ridiculously hot day it turned out to be). The water was a little cold but with how hot and humid it was it felt really good. After our time at the beach we headed back to Sorrento for our final night. Friday was our last day in Italy so we caught our train back to Naples but this time we made a stop in Pompeii to see the ruins of the ancient city that was destroyed and at the same time preserved by a volcano in 79 a.d. We spent two hours wandering around the city and still only saw a fraction of what there was to see. We wandered through what would have been people's houses and neighborhoods, sat in the theater and wandered through the baths. We enjoyed our time in Italy and hope to be able to go back someday, after all that's why we threw our coins in Trevi Fountain.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Another Blast from the Past

The second weekend with Nate's family was spent in Holland. Our first stop was Amsterdam where we went on a tour of the Anne Frank House and wandered through the Rijks Museum. Amsterdam was very crowded and after we wandered around the city and saw the canals and all the bikers we had all seen enough. We split up and Nate and I headed out for our anniversary dinner while the rest of the family went and did their own thing. The next day we went to Zaanse Schans, which is an old Dutch village, and saw a demonstration on making wooden shoes and the making of Dutch cheese. It was a fun place to wander around and see all the people dressed in traditional dutch clothing.

And finally, the last weekend with the Crandalls we spent down in the black forest and in Switzerland. The black forest is a cool place and it's quite different from the part of Germany that we live in. The food is different, the architecture is different and even the language has a slight variation. We went to Triberg and hiked up the longest waterfall in Germany, it was a nice hike but the waterfall doesn't compare to the waterfalls in Hawaii. After the hike we went and looked at cuckoo clocks and had the Black Forest cake that I had been looking forward to.
Our final stop was in Adelboden, Switzerland where we went hiking in the Alps. When we were driving to Adelboden I was a little disappointed because the Alps didn't look that vast, but once we started hiking up them we got to where all you could see was peak after peak after peak. Jaeger loved hiking and I think she could have kept going if it wasn't for the fact that we had to head back down. Well, that's the whole story of the Crandall vacation to visit us in Germany, and now my mom has seen some pictures.

Blast from the Past

Since my parents accused me of not showing them any of the pictures from when Nate's family came out I decided to post some more pictures from their trip. The first weekend that they were out we headed down south to see Munich and Austria.
Our first stop was in Ulm, Germany to see the Ulm cathedral which has the tallest church steeple in the world. We started up the 768 steps and it was quite a hike to the top. The steps were uneven and wound up in a tight circle; I got quite dizzy climbing up the different sets of steps, but it was worth it when we got to the top. At the very top of the steeple there was a lookout area where you could look down on the town and out towards wherever.

After we left Ulm we headed on to Dachau, Germany where we did a tour of the Dachau Concentration Camp. We saw where the barracks stood and went through one of the barracks that was still standing and was furnished to appear as the barracks did at different points during the war. We also went through the crematorium which included the places where the prisoners were stripped, gassed and burned. It was an eerie place to say the least. After touring the grounds we went inside the museum which was also the in processing location for the prisoners. Dachau was one of the highlights on the trip for me.

Our final stop of the day was in Munich where we stayed for the night. When we arrived in Munich we wandered around the city center and got to see a few of the beer gardens that Munich is famous for. We would have seen more, but after a long day of seeing other attractions we all decided to get some dinner and head back to our hotel rooms.

The next day we drove to Salzburg and went on the Sound of Music Tour. We got to see a lot of places that were cool but didn't mean that much to me because I can't recall every having seen the Sound of Music. Luckily the tour also included all of the other main sights of Salzburg so we were able to hit them all in one day. The picture below is of Nate, Molly and I on a hill with Salzburg in the background.

The final stop on this trip was Neuschwanstein Castle which was Mad King Ludwig's castle and is known as the model for the Disneyland castle. Unfortunately the day we went it was rainy and cold which made the short hike up to the castle a bit less entertaining, but we made the best of it. When we got up to the castle we went on a short tour and then made our way back down the hill. Even though the weather was against us it was still one of the best castles I've seen in Germany yet.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Pre-Deployment Pain

Now that Nate is in the midst of preparing for his trip to "the sandbox" this fall, we're beginning to learn all about the pain that goes into preparing for that adventure. For the past two weeks I think Nate has spent as much time at various doctors as he has spent actually doing his job. Last week he got his first of six anthrax shots and a typhoid shot in one arm and the next day he received the smallpox vaccine in the other arm. All of these shots led to him being extremely sore all last week. He had a giant knot from the anthrax for quite a few days, but as that one has worn off he has truly focused the brunt of his complaints on the smallpox vaccine. We're hoping that it has reached its apex as it is a large somewhat disgusting sight. (The picture really doesn't do the swollen, oozy, pock justice)

Hopefully Nate is nearing the end of his vaccinations, besides the rest of the anthrax shots, I don't think he can take anymore diseases being pumped into his body. Who would've thought you had to see so many doctors before you could enter the sandbox.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Starting off by catching up

This page is Nate and I's way of showing all our friends and family what we're up to out here in Germany. We love travel and photography so between the two of those plus my uncanny ability to make every story exciting this is bound to get good.
Since we arrived in Germany we've explored Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Austria, and Switzerland along with of course Germany. Some of the highlights of these trips were celebrating the end of 2006 and the start of 2007 in Paris...

Nate's family came out in June and we racked up a lot of miles traveling around Europe. One of our favorite parts of their trip was when we went down to Switzerland and did some hiking in the Alps. Jaeger (our cute little yorkshire terrier for those of you who don't know her) came with us and loved running up and down the ridges.

There are many more adventures that I wish I had the space and time to tell you about, but instead of dwelling on past adventures we're going to turn our attention to the future adventures that you're soon to learn about here in Crandall-Land.