2003 Trip to Europe

This trip began with us traveling to London, UK for a quick overnight stay.  I remember liking the hotel and watching a bit of TV.  We then flew to Munich, Germany.  This city I found to be remarkably similar to American cities.  Our hotel was quite nice, and was surrounded by nice shops and benches.  The weather was good and sunny.  Our first tour took us through the scenery of wild Germany.  I was impressed with the glorious mountains, which were filled with green, tall trees.  The tour guide was an upbeat and funny woman.  We eventually made our way to Neuschwanstein Castle.  This incredible castle is the inspiration behind many of Disney’s fairy tale castles, and understandably so, I quickly realized.  It is so beautiful, standing up on a hill, with glistening towers and bright blue rooftops.  We made sure to take plenty of serene, wonderful photos.  The tour led us to the front of the castle and onward inside.  We learned about the incredible Prince Ludwig, who I consider one of my icons.  I was impressed with the large, ancient-looking rooms and somewhat mysterious atmosphere.  When we walked out of the castle I remember it being very hot; I believe I wanted some sort of beverage.  Our tour concluded with us traveling again through the idyllic mountains.

Our next stop was Vienna, Austria.  We had to take a train from Munich to Vienna.  It is so beautiful looking at the countryside as one travels by train here.  When we arrived, I was instantly taken by surprise just how friendly so many of the nationals are.  It was really something to behold.  One of our first visits was to St. Stephen’s Cathedral.  This picturesque cathedral has really high ceilings, lovely windows, and an amazingly tall staircase.  We decided to take the audio-tour here.  The tour involved us going up the stairs, witnessing the illustrious views of the city, and learning about the history of the cathedral.  Another of our visits was to a great Strauss concert.  Here, they played the beautiful and romantic Blue Danube Waltz.  I have always loved this famous piece, as it makes me imagine lovers dancing the ballroom night away.  The next day, we walked through an interesting Dali art exhibit.  The theme was, of course, Dali’s amazing surrealism.  I am still impressed with Dali’s unashamed embrace of the dreamy, surreal nature of the world.  We then walked among various shops, and actually recognized some of the musicians from the previous night’s concert walking around.  One of our visits was to a grand hall in which several ballet dancers impressed us with their fluid, graceful motions.  I also remember Vienna has a lovely river running through town.

Our next destination was Zurich, Switzerland.  This really is a beautiful, extraordinary city.  I noticed how hilly much of the landscape is here.  The weather was fantastic.  We went on a small cruise on a local river, where we had some great dessert.  I enjoyed the views of the hills surrounding the river, as well as the crisp, fresh look of the long river.  I actually believe this was one of my first times on a cruise.  We also visited several of the local Swatch shops.  Switzerland is known for their colorful, elegant watches.

Our last destination was London, UK.  Here, we visited Westminster Abbey, which is large, majestic, and filled with decorative spires.  We also visited the Tower of London, which has plenty of dark, mysterious hallways and a relatively morbid history.  We made sure to visit Piccadilly Circus.  This place is quite colorful and often jam-packed with tourists.  We also went to Madame Tussauds and the Chamber of Horrors again, and I was once more impressed with the darkness.  Our trip ended with another visit to London Bridge, as well as Wimbledon.

2002 Trip to Europe

Our 2002 trip to Europe was incredible.  This trip was mainly in London, UK and Dublin, Ireland.  While in London, one of our visits was to Madame Tussauds.  This is a wax museum with many statues of famous people that are completely made in wax.  We took plenty of funny photos.  I was amazed at how lifelike some of the figures were.  We also went through the Chamber of Horrors, which was dark, scary, and awesome.  I thoroughly enjoyed the mysterious and haunted vibe of the place.  Another of our visits was of course Big Ben.  This is an impressive clock tower that has been featured in quite a few movies and books.  We also visited Buckingham Palace, which is the home of UK royalty.  It is quite large, with tall columns and many gates.  While we were there, we saw the changing of the guards.  There were a bunch of tourists there seeing it as well.  It was a wonderful spectacle, with the guards marching in a regal and orderly procession.  We made sure to visit London Bridge.  This long bridge is built above the River Thames, and though it’s not quite the original from the Medieval era, it is still very impressive.  There are also many alleyways filled with shops throughout the city, so we visited some of those.  London has great food as well, with a diversity of options spanning cuisines inspired from locales around the world.  We also went aboard the London Eye, which is a really large Ferris wheel with cabins that have windows surrounding them.  The views are great from the top.

Our next visit was Dublin, Ireland.  I immediately became entranced with the beauty of Ireland.  Everything about the landscape is so green, lush, and welcoming.  On the way from the airport I noticed that there were many hills as well.  Clontarf Castle is the place where we kept our luggages and slept.  This wonderful castle has an amazing history, spanning times ever since the Medieval era.  It felt incredible staying here, knowing its past and admiring its current beauty.  There are many beautiful tapestries about the walls of the interior.  I remember hearing some great piano music there as well.  One of the tours we went on focused on three fantastic locales.  The first was an ancient graveyard with roots from the Medieval era, called the Reefert ruins.  I was impressed with the gothic beauty of this place.  Large stones could be seen at every corner, the scenery was quite green, and the hills were large and majestic.  There was even a mist covering some of the stones.  The next locale was at the foot of a beautiful lake in Wicklow.  This place was like an absolute magical dream.  Surrounding the lake were mountains of tall trees.  A lovely breeze was blowing and the water rippled passionately.  We walked around the landscape and admired the serene quality.  The view of the trees and water was unlike anything I had seen before.  The next locale was at the top of a cliff overlooking Lough Tay.  This is another wonderful place, with views of a grand lake surrounded by green scenery and tall cliffs.  It was quite cold up here, so I put on my jacket.  I then started frolicking around, because everything seemed so nice and welcoming.  On the tour bus, the tour guide played a CD of the Dubliners.  We were all enjoying ourselves on the bus to this music, and there was a general sense of camaraderie.  We learned about the term “slainte”, meaning “good health”.  One of the tour members asked if there were goats in the countryside, and the tour guide replied “yes, there be plenty goats down there”.  On another day, we walked around some shops in Dublin, and noticed how very friendly everyone was.  I got a piece of the Blarney Stone as well.  Another tour we went on led us to Trinity College, and there we saw some interesting Medieval manuscripts, and an Ogham stone.  The next stop on the tour was St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which is absolutely stunning.  The stained glass is beautiful.  Our last stop on the tour was Guinness brewery, which was fascinating.