2008 Trip to Italy

Our trip to Italy in 2008 was adventurous and awesome.  The first city was Rome.  When we were here, I had fond nostalgia from the time we had visited previously.  The buildings looked the same (colorful and regal).  We visited the Trevi Fountain again, and took plenty nice photos there.  People were making wishes and tossing coins into the fountain.  There were also lots of lovers in the area taking photos and holding hands.  We made sure to visit the Vatican.  I was impressed with the large, open spaces filled with tourists.  The Pope was giving a speech about prayer and harmony.  I noticed that there was a giant obelisk in the middle of the square.  We also went inside St. Peter’s Basilica, which is large, nicely painted, and filled with a sacred aura.  Another place we visited in Rome was the Colosseum.  This structure has a long, interesting, and sometimes tragic history.  We noticed some ancient aqueducts close to the area as well.

Our next stop was Sorrento.  This is a quaint city, with many shops, hills, and lovely views of the shoreline.  We visited a few shops that were selling purses and satchels.  A highlight was when we went to nearby Capri.  There, we went on a boat and sailed over to the Grotto.  I was quite impressed with the intense blueness of the water, as well as the sturdy rock formations throughout the area.  While there we also walked up a hill filled with nice shops and restaurants.  The weather was sunny and somewhat hot.  I got a good workout, to say the least.  Another place we visited was Mount Vesuvius.  Here, there was a major eruption almost 2,000 years ago which practically leveled the town of Pompeii.  Some mosaics from the time period are still around, in addition to stonework and the foundations for ancient meeting places.

The next stop was Florence.  One of the first things I noticed was how beautiful the landscapes are around here.  There are many flowering fields, majestic hills, and peaceful trees in the area of Tuscany.  Our hotel blended in nicely with the scenery and looked like it was from the Nineteenth Century.  We made sure to visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa, which is nearby.  I was surprised at how much the tower actually leans; it’s a pretty large angle.  Nice gardens and columns are close to the tower.  We took some impressive photos as well.  Back in Florence, we visited a museum that housed Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, as well as a gallery that contained Michelangelo’s statue of David.  We visited many jewelry shops close to the area, and I was amazed at the picturesque quality of the rivers that flowed nearby.  We also went on two tours that took us to the countryside of Tuscany.  The first was to San Gimignano, a wonderful village with shop-filled alleyways and nice views of the countryside.  The second was to Siena, an ancient city known for the Palio, a horse race held often and with festive, colorful decorations.

Our next stop was Venice.  This amazing city is mainly known for its abundant waterways and gondolas, such as those that characterize the Grand Canal.  Of course we made sure to visit the Grand Canal, and we had a great time there.  We were on a gondola that took us through some waterways lined with restaurants that had beautiful flowers hanging from windows.  Once on the actual Grand Canal, there were many wonderful views of the city, its bridges, and waterfront buildings.  The whole experience was reminiscent of romantic escapes and lovers enjoying themselves.  We also walked through some of the town centers, filled with shops and birds walking proudly around the grounds.  One of our visits was to St. Mark’s Basilica.  This lovely church has golden mosaics spread throughout, and glittering walls.  We visited some Venetian mask shops as well, since Venice is also known for its intriguing masks.

Our next stop was Como.  Here, there is a large and exquisite lake highlighting much of the area and providing wonderful views.  Nearby, we visited a beautiful garden that had wondrous flowering plants, bushes, and trees.  There were also a few hills in that garden, and small decorative bridges.  We went on a small cruise on the lake.  The weather was sunny and nice, so I tied my jacket around my waist.  We noticed the grand views of the city around us, and there was also a green mountain towering above in the background.  One other place we visited here was a nice restaurant with umbrella shades.

The final stop on this vacation was Milan.  Here, we visited Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper.  I honestly believe this work of art is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.  It was much larger than I had expected it to be.  The tour guide was telling us about some of the interesting facts surrounding this painting, as well as some of the conspiracy theories that have followed it throughout history.  One thing that was noted was how there seems to be an impossible hand-placement carrying a knife toward the side of the painting.  I’m not sure I believe any of the conspiracy theories, but the work of art itself I find amazingly lovely.  We also visited the Duomo di Milano, a large cathedral that has strikingly beautiful spires throughout.  After we saw the inside of the cathedral, which had wondrous glowing stained glass windows, we actually went on a small tour that took us to the top of the building.  There were of course fantastic views of the city from here.  From there, we walked around a big shopping center that was close by, and did some people-watching.  One of the last things we did in Milan was eat at a nice, comfortable restaurant that had some delicious dessert.  That concluded our great vacation this time around.

2000 Trip to Europe

This was my first trip overseas.  Our first stop was in Rome, Italy.  Glancing out the airplane I noticed that there were a lot of fields.  When we arrived at our hotel, the Sofitel, I was impressed with its luxury.  The luxuriousness of hotels is something that continued to impress me in future vacations to destinations overseas.  We took a taxi to the Sistine Chapel.  I noticed how majestic and ancient-looking all the buildings were.  We toured the large, amazing complex filled with religious, revered works of art.  The paintings are unquestionably beautiful.  Once we finished, we walked around the area, noticing the diversity of all the tourists/people who were there as well.  We continued to walk among various shops and scenic bridges, until we noticed that we were quite lost.  It must have been about a full hour we were lost, and then a taxi finally saved us.  The next day was the Colosseum.  This ancient building has an amazing and sometimes tragic history.  We walked around it, and there were also a lot of tourists there.  We then ambled our way through bustling shops.  I noticed much of the music I heard was a cool new techno sound.  The next day we visited the glorious Trevi Fountain.  It is absolutely romantic.  People were making wishes and tossing coins into the giant fountain.  There were plenty of professional photographers taking pictures of couples in love standing in front of it.  The statues among the fountain are also quite extraordinary and heroic-looking.

The next day, we flew to Barcelona, Spain.  The hotel was Avenida Suites.  I noticed how friendly most of the people around the area were.  We toured a Gaudi museum filled with the eccentric artist’s masterpieces.  Then we took a taxi to a wonderful park inspired by the works of Gaudi.  The park was hilly and colorful.  The next day, we visited a Medieval monastery.  The ride to the monastery was filled with beautiful landscapes and lush fields.  The monastery had impressive architecture, plenty of dark, large rooms, and gorgeous gardens.  From there we went on to visit the Sagrada Familia, which I have heard is still in the process of being constructed.  This incredible church has been in the process of construction since the early Twentieth Century.  It is designed with strong attention to detail.  The next day we toured an ancient fort and visited a nice beach close to the fort.

The day after that, we flew to Paris, France.  This is an amazing and romantic city.  Our hotel was the Louvre Hotel.  We took a pleasant stroll around the area and did some people-watching.  I remember seeing such incredibly beautiful cafes filled with fragrant flowers hanging among windows and fabulous desserts.  There were really nice gardens.  It seemed so much like a dream.  That same day we took a taxi to the Eiffel Tower.  On the tower there was a sign celebrating the new millennium.  I remember noticing that the tower was taller than I had expected it to be.  The next day, we toured the giant, impressive Louvre museum.  Of course, the main attraction there is the Mona Lisa.  Security was heavy (as it should be), and there were throngs of tourists trying to catch a peek at the famous painting.  When I saw it, I remember believing it was somewhat smaller than I had expected it to be.  It was still very spectacular.  There were also other amazing works of art at the museum.  The next day, we visited the Notre Dame Cathedral.  When we walked in, there were a choir singing, candles lit, and extremely high ceilings.  It really is a lovely cathedral.  We proceeded to walk around the area, seeing shops as well as the Seine River.  This was our trip to Europe that year.