Rome, Italy November, 2013

We decided to drive to Rome(about a five hour drive from our home) for the Thanksgiving 4 day, but wanted to be back home before the Auburn/Alabama game on Saturday. We got up on Thanksgiving day and decided to stop and get breakfast before leaving(I didn’t want to cook). Then we got on the road about 1030am and made great time on the road. We arrived into Rome and headed toward the hotel. And this is when our GPS decided to hate us. I put the address the hotel gave us in and we headed to it and needless to say the GPS wanted to take us 2 blocks down from the hotel; luckily I saw the sign and we turned back around. I booked this hotel mainly because it had free breakfast and was suppose to have parking. While checking in we were told it had a limited number of parking spaces available for guest(2 to be exact). So, they gave us directions to the nearest parking area(which we now had to pay for). Finally we unloaded the car and got into our room which was the family room and the hotel had set up a scanvenger hunt for Brody. He loved that. After getting settled in we decided to explore some of Rome while the sun was out and then to head to the Hard Rock for dinner.

Rome (33)

So we head toward the Metro which was about 3 blocks away from the hotel and for anyone wanting to know the Metro is extremely easy to use in Rome and cheap. We decided to go ahead and go see the Colosseo, the Vatican City and the Spanish Steps. We ended the day with a yummy dinner at Hard Rock.

Rome (50) Rome (55) Rome (43)

Rome (57) Rome (67) Rome (77) Rome (93) Rome (94)

The next morning we got up and enjoyed breakfast and then set out. We headed back to the Colosseo to explore the ruins that are close by. Then we went to the Vittoriano E Piazza Venezia and even went inside the Vittoriano museum. After that we headed to the Fontana Di Trevi and enjoyed some icecream from a local shop that was amazing. We called it a day after that and headed back to the hotel. After resting for a little bit we decided we wanted to have Hard Rock for dinner again so we hopped back on the metro and got dinner to go.

Rome (102) Rome (104) Rome (125) Rome (140) Rome (175) Rome (221) Rome (225)

All in all we had a wonderful time in Rome and for anyone that knows us knows that Daniel normally handles navigation and the map but for this trip not once did he have to navigate for us I did it all. I was super proud of myself.

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Trip to Pisa, Florence, and Milan 2013

We decided to make a day trip out of our trip to Pisa and Florence. Pisa is about a 3 hour drive or so from where we live and everything we wanted to see is all located within the same walled off area. Then we made the hour drive back to Florence to see the duomo Florence(or the Cathedral of Florence and then on to eat at the Hard Rock Café, which turned out to be the best one we have been to so far, and got our shot glass and had dinner before making the drive back home. Here are some pictures from this trip.

 Then at the beginning of November we decided to do another day trip but to Milan this time. We mainly just wanted to see the Duomo Milan and the shopping district. The plaza where we parked had a little market going on that we stopped and got a few things at.

Paris, France October 2013

The trip to Paris was hectic to say the least. We woke up early Saturday morning to head to the airport and when we got to Treviso airport the line was crazy long to go through security. I was afraid that we weren’t going to make it to our gate in time(we did). Once landing in Paris we got on the bus and made the 1 hour trip to the heart of Paris and then hopped in a taxi to where we were suppose to be staying. And this is where the trip made a turn for the worse.

 I made sure to email the owner of the apartment we were renting to make sure he was tracking our arrival. I had all the information he gave us upon renting the apartment. There were no bad reviews on the website for him(he must have deleted them somehow). Anyways, we arrived at the apartment to no keys and I immediately started to call the owner. He didn’t answer and I called over 40 times and sent text messages. While all this is happening Lynn(thought her bank cards would work in France) was trying to get some euros and the ATM ate her card. So what to do now. Michele and I then went to the nearest starbucks to get online and find a hotel while Lynn and Daniel and Brody went to get a prepaid phone for Lynn to use to call her bank(I had ran out of minutes from calling the stupid owner and Daniel had locked his phone and we didn’t have the code to unlock it with us). Finally found a hotel at about 4pm and we arrived around noon. We jumped in a taxi and headed to the hotel and of course with the day we were having the cab driver took us to the wrong hotel. Thankfully that hotel had a shuttle and offered to take us for free to our hotel. Once arriving to the hotel at about 6pm we decided just to have dinner there and Daniel and Lynn went to the bar. We all finally went to bed around 9pm.
After a good night’s sleep we went and enjoyed breakfast and then called for a taxi to take us into downtown Paris. We saw the St. Michael’s church, Louvre, Arc, Eiffel Tower and more. WE enjoyed lunch at a little café. The soup was amazing there(it was freezing that day).

The next day was our last full day there and we just decided to be lazy. I wasn’t feeling good, so we hung around the hotel. We went and had lunch and dinner at a nearby restaurant which turned out to be a hidden little gem. And then just watched movies the rest of the night.

 The last day we took a taxi to the Hard Rock Café to get our shot glass and then made our way slowly back to where we had to get on the bus to go back to the airport.

Friends Visit Italy September 2013

Over this past weekend we had some wonderful friends come and stay with us. We showed them around Vicenza and then took a trip over to Venice. Venice is the city of water and should also be called the city of stairs. It is definitely not stroller/wheelchair friendly unless you want to spend the money and ride on the water taxis. But I feel like if you do that then you can miss out on all the beauty you would get to see by walking. Here are a few picture from the visit.

Budapest, Hungary June 2013

Well, as you all know we decided to take the train here and it was our first time using the trains. And let’s just say it is an experience we will never forget. I should have done more research before we got the tickets, but in my defense we did ask the ticket guy if the tracks were affected by the flooding from last month and he assured us there was no problems and I trusted him. My bad. The train ride from Bamberg to Linz, Austria wasn’t too bad. Once we arrived in Linz though everything went to crap for us. Our train to take us to Budapest was almost an hour late because it had to detour(thanks to the flood). We got on the train and made it to a town called  Győr, Hungary and was then told we had to get off the train and get onto a bus to be taken to another train station because the tracks were messed up. YAY, not! My husband hates buses and it was so hot. The buses reminded us of the buses they used to take us to the base in Kuwait back when we were deployed to Iraq. Anyways, so off we went to get on the bus. Granted by this point we were suppose to already be in Budapest. We finally made it to Budapest around 8pm and proceeded to get in a taxi to head to our hotel. We get over onto the Buda side of Budapest to find some of the streets are still closed because of the dang flood, so our cabbie drops us off and tells us the hotel is about 200 meters away and points us in the right direction. 200 meters later we still hadn’t made it to the hotel so we decided to ask a cop and he sends us the other way. After walking about a half a mile in that direction we decided to stop into another hotel and ask and they pointed us in the right direction. We finally made it to our hotel around 9pm. 

After the horrible first night we woke up to an extremely sunny hot day in Budapest. We enjoyed breakfast at our hotel with a wonderful view of the Parliament before we headed out to explore the Pest side of Budapest. Once we arrived on the Pest side we decided to do the hop on hop off bus tour because it was just too hot to walk everywhere. We got to see the Chain Bridge, the Opera house, the oldest Catholic church in Budapest, and Hero’s Square. We also went and explored the Central Market Hall. After all that we went and enjoyed dinner at the Hard Rock and got our shot glass. Then we headed back to the hotel to relax and get in the a/c.

The 2nd day seemed like it was going to be just as hot as the 1st. We started with breakfast and then set off to do the hop on hop off bus of the Buda side. We visited the Castle hill, the Citadel, and  the Matthias Church. We just kinda walked around and enjoyed the sights. We stopped and had some ice cream and walked through some open air markets. We then returned back to the hotel and enjoyed some goulash and got ready for our trip back home.

I wish I could say the trip back from Budapest was uneventful but it definitely will always give us something to talk about. I would recommend Budapest to everyone. It is truly a beautiful city and I wish we had more time to just explore it!

Köln(Cologne)/Brussels Trip May 2013

We decided to do this trip with some friends. Cologne has been on my list for a while now and I just mainly wanted waffles and chocolate from Belgium. Plus both these places have a hard rock cafe(score 2 shot glasses in 1 weekend)! 

In Cologne, we visited the Chocolate Museum(didn’t actually get to do the Museum part, but we did get some yummy chocolate). We also visited the zoo and the Cologne Cathedral or “Dom”. 

After Cologne, we headed to Brussles. The first night in Brussels all we did was eat and hang out at the hotel(well the women and kids did; the 2 guys went out). Saturday we got up and went to the city center to explore. We visited the Manneken Pis, The Guild Houses, Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula and the city hall. We also enjoyed some yummy chocolate and waffles and of course Hard Rock. That night we went back to the hotel to relax.

Algrave, Portugal April 2013

The first day was mainly spent in the airport and then on the plane to Portugal. We arrived in Portugal around 7 that night and made it to the hotel around 8. We decided to just eat at the hotel that night as there weren’t too many other options unless we called for a taxi to come and get us and we were already tired from all the traveling as it was. The hotel we booked was for a 1 bedroom apartment but when we arrived we were told that there had been a mistake when booking and they had upgraded us to a two bedroom apartment which was huge and amazing. The hotel was a golf resort and located in Algarve’s Ria Formosa Nature Reserve. 

The entrance into our apartment.

The second day we decided to hang out around the hotel and walk down to the beach. After the beach we headed back to the hotel to lay out by the pool while Brody enjoyed the kiddie pool. We also enjoyed the playground there. Later that afternoon we headed to the grocery store to buy some things to cook for lunch and dinner.

                                                   

The third day we headed to the Vilamoura Marine to do a boat tour of the cliffs and caves. Brody slept the whole way out until we docked to get on the little boat to be able to see the caves and let anyone who wanted to get in the cold water and swim. Daniel braved it like a crazy person. On the way back to the Marine the boat captain let Brody drive the boat for a bit. He loved it. We then headed back to the hotel to be lazy.

The fourth and final day there we just laid by the pool. Brody and Daniel got in the cold pool water too. We also went to the playground one last time before we left.

Portugal was extremely beautiful and we would recommend a trip there to anyone!

Palma De Mallorca, Spain April 2013

For block leave this year we knew we weren’t going to waste it in Germany. We had 30 days to explore Europe and we wanted to use it to our full advantage and we knew we wanted to go somewhere warm. So, I started researching and found tickets pretty cheap to Palma De Mallorca, Spain and they even had a Hard Rock Cafe there(we collect shot glasses from there). We flew there with RyanAir(a no frills airline) and arrived that night around 5 and went straight to our hotel. The first room we got sucked and we had some issues to begin with so we requested another room which was bigger and almost 100% better. The first night all we did was explore the area around our hotel.

We loved this sand castle.

Palm Trees were everywhere.

The second day we decided to head into Mallorca and explore the actual city. We took a taxi from our hotel and arrived at the Palma Cathedral(La Seu). The cathedral was absolutely beautiful and huge. We then decided to head to Hard Rock to enjoy lunch before we did the hop on, hop off bus tour. With a 4 year old the hop on, hop off bus was the best option for us because eventually he would have gotten tired of walking and want to be carried. The only place we hopped off the bus was at the Bellver Castle which was the first circle castle in Europe. The views from the hill was amazing. After the bus tour we explored around the Cathedral a little more before getting in a taxi to head back to the hotel to enjoy the pool and beach before calling it a night.

 

 

The third day we decided to hang out around the hotel and visit the aquarium. We got up and enjoyed breakfast at our hotel and then walked down to the beach. We stopped at a local cafe and I enjoyed a sex on the beach drink(one of the best I’ve ever had) and Daniel had a mojito. We then rented a family bike which Brody enjoyed before we headed to the aquarium. After the aquarium we headed back to the beach and then had dinner at a wonderful little cafe overlooking the ocean.

The third day was really about relaxing and taking it easy as the next morning we had to get up early and get on a plane. We started the day off with a trip back down to the beach. Then we hopped in a taxi and headed back into town to see the Arabic Baths and to see the Cathedral one last time. We also had lunch at a cafe that we ended up hating. We then got back in a taxi and headed to the hotel to let Brody play in the pool and at the park.

 

 

 

 My favorite picture of them

The next day we woke up early to head back to the airport to go to Germany and switch out our dirty clothes for clean ones and catch our next flight to Portugal.

Trier and Luxembourg March 2013

For March’s 4 day we decided to head to Germany’s oldest city, Trier and then onto Luxembourg where General Patton is buried.

 On March 15th we went to Trier and visited Porta Nigra, the Hauptmarkt, the Konstantinbasilika, the Kurfurstliches Palais, and the Kaiserthermen(Roman baths).

On March 16th we visited Luxembourg and the American Cemetery and Memorial. In Luxembourg we also visited the Monument de la Solidarite Nationale (Monument to National Unity), Gelle Fra and just kinda wondered around the town for a little while. It was freezing that weekend and snowing. 

And of course our hotel had an indoor swimming pool