Going to Europe has always been a dream of mine! After Robbie went on a father son trip last year as his college graduation gift from his parents, he came home telling me all about it and how I would absolutely love it and that we would make sure we got there so I could see it all. After some talk of how to make the trip affordable, we landed on a cruise as that was the best option. And so the planning and then waiting began. Before I knew it, it was already time to go and I felt like I needed more time to prepare to make sure I saw everything I wanted to see. Well I am looking back on the 10 days we spent there and I can't believe all we were able to see and the amazing pictures I was able to capture. Below is a reader's digest version of our trip (I took 1700 pictures and think there are about 250/300 in this blog post and 490 in the on-line gallery if you want to see the pictures larger click here), and in a nutshell I LOVED Europe and most specifically Italy and the history of it all. Disclaimer* I had a slight obsession with the following things, little hole in the wall stores on the street, water spickets, scooters and bikes, vintage cars, gelato and different concoctions made from it, the Ponte Vechio Bridge in Florence, and Pharmacie's/Farmacie's (the European CVS)... so you will see a variety of these things in different parts of our trip! I can't wait to hang some of the pictures in the house!
We arrived in Rome around 9am (when you fly there you leave mid-day EST and then arrive in Europe the next morning) and luckily our hotel was already ready. It was amazing and the guy at the front desk was so nice! We had a cute little balcony that overlooked the street and was quite relaxing. Once we dropped our luggage we were off to the Trevi Fountain, there were so many people there it was crazy how popular of a tourist spot it is. Next we made our way to the Pantheon which was amazing because of its age and how well it still looked. After that we journeyed through the Forum and to the Colosseum with a couple stops for pictures and food along the way. Robbie had brought along his GoPro and a pole in order to get some high and wide angles of buildings so you will see some awesome perspectives along the way. (He even got one of me in front of the Coloseeum), and I fell in love with my camera's ability to do panorama's! It is so awesome to look back at them now and see what the view looked like from where I was standing at that time!
On the second day, we went to the Vatican first thing in the morning, it was amazing! We both couldn't believe all the different paintings, murals, tapestry's, and various other intricate details that the whole building had in it. Towards the end of the tour we went into the Sistine Chapel, and that was just as amazing. To see something that you are taught about in history books and see pictures of, but to actually see it... we just stood in awe with our mouths open not being able to imagine the years worth of work it took to create all of that. Such a dedication and work of art. After that we visited a couple other amazing places but I was not able to take pictures as they did not allow it in the buildings, Basilica San Clemente (which is three churches that were built on top of each other see the history here), the Capuchin Crypt (which was another church that you have to read about here), and the Spanish Steps. We had decided the day before that since this was our last night in Rome I wanted to take some pictures of the Trevi Fountain at night, so we decided to take a stroll. We took a couple of great night pictures and had fun exploring the city at night. We threw some coins in the fountain for good luck, and had an amazing gelato treat for dessert!
For the remainder of the trip we were on-board the Norwegian Epic cruise ship and were able to tour a variety of cities because of it. Our next stop was Pisa. We enjoyed walking around the city, but then made our way right to Florence. Florence was so awesome. We were starving by the time we got there so we headed towards the Ponte Vechio Bridge and ate along the way. I thought that bridge was so neat, I took pictures of it from every angle! I even stopped into one of the jewelry shops and bought the cutest little cameo necklace! After the bridge we worked our way to the Duomo (a cathedral in the middle of the city), wanting to climb to the top but the line was 2 hours or so and we decided to instead walk to the top of Michelangelo's Square. After almost dying climbing up the almost 90 degree angle steps we were able to see the view of the city which was breathtaking! You could see everything and we took a moment to just take in the views before we headed back down to meet our tour bus to head back to the ship.
Our next port city was Cannes, they had just had the film festival there and instead of walking around the city we decided to take a tour of Monaco & Monte Carlo instead. We though that Monaco was another beautiful city. We saw the Prince's Palace, the changing of the guard, the aftermath and tear-down of The Grand Prix (which had also just been there the weekend before), and of course the Monte Carlo Casino.
The next day we visited the spanish island of Palma. We had opted for a bike tour of the city but were nervous it would rain. Luckily the weather held out (although there was a dark cloud looming at one point) and it was one of my most favorite things we did. It was so nice to have the breeze blowing around you, while peddling and seeing how amazing the city, and just being in Europe truly is. Our tour guide was also awesome and stopped to tell us the different historical significances of buildings and for photo ops. Robbie and I also stayed at the back as there were multiple times that I stopped quick and took my own photos then pedaled fast to catch up with the group. Anything for a great picture!! :) Then we got back a couple hours before the ship was leaving so we took a quick trip to a castle that overlooked Palma. I have always been fascinated with castles and couldn't believe I was actually in one.
The next day we visited Barcelona. This city was different than I thought it would be, but really cool all the same. We took a tour of the city in a bus with an open roof (like you see in so many movies and tourist videos) but it was really neat to be able to hear someone tell you all about the history of the building you were passing and you had the ability to stop and get off at any bus stop and then get back on as well all day long. We saw the La Sagrada Familia Basilica by Gaudi, also visited his home, walked in the park, and walked around the gothic quarter.
Our final day in Europe we visited Naples, Mt. Vesuvius and Pompeii. We had planned to hike to the top of Mt. Vesuvius and then tour Pompeii. On our way we stopped at another cameo shop and were able to see how they were made, which was really neat. After that we hiked to the top of the volcano and as we were looking over we saw a spot that released steam. I caught a picture of it but it was so little it was hard to see (I put the yah photography watermark right next to it so hopefully you can see it). The volcano was so neat, and the views of the ocean, the city, the Isle of Capri, and the hardened lave that went down the mountain from its previous eruptions was just amazing. When we got to Pompeii we were just in awe of what was still left of the city. Everything was so detailed still and they were working to restore a couple areas that were starting to deteriorate and it was neat to see them work on it. It was so neat but weird at the same time to think about what had happened there so many years ago. After Pompeii we walked around the bay of Naples, I put my feet in the Mediterranean and we just walked around the city enjoying our last day.
This trip was a once in a lifetime opportunity and we hope to be able to go back and visit again soon! P.S. These are a couple of pictures that I missed along the way... omg the belgin waffles over there were to die for!