What a Long Strange Trip it Has Been

Now that our European adventure is over (for now), we thought that we would take the time to trace our steps and truly acknowledge how many wonderful places we were able to visit. In chronological order, here was our trip in a snapshot, it certainly makes our heads spin.

    1. Frankfurt, Germany – It may have been our home, but it was still a wonderful city and we have a lot of incredible memories of our time there.

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      Old Town Frankfurt
    2. Kassel, Germany – It was the first place that we visited once we found an apartment and is the home of the Brother’s Grimm Museum and is part of the Fairy Tale Road.

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      Lowenbrau Castle
    3. Heidelberg, Germany – Truly one of the idyllic cities that we visited while in Germany.

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      Heidelberg Castle
    4. Koblenz, Germany – One of the most amazing train rides that we have ever taken and an amazing city on the Rhine.

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      Suburbs of Koblenz
    5. Hochheim, Germany – A truly small hamlet experience.IMGP0369
    6. Vienna, Austria – Our first trip outside of Germany and truly a center for the arts.DSC_1186
    7. Cologne, Germany – Amazing Dom and a wonderful old-world city. We had been told that it was a place that we had to visit while we were in Germany and we would definitely agree.IMG_2967
    8. Wurzburg, Germany – Another small town experience that we had been hoping for and one of the best of Christmas Markets that we had visited.

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      Statue in Wurzburg
    9. Strasbourg, France – Wine, medieval villages, and some of the friendliest people that we had the opportunity to meet, and that is saying a lot.DSC_1486
    10. Prague, Czech Republic – One of the places in Europe that everyone should visit at some point in time. We were there over Christmas and it was spectacular.

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      View of Prague Castle
    11. Athens, Greece – There are few places in the world as historically important as Athens.

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      Amazing History
    12. Bucharest/Brasov, Romania – Definitely one of those special places where the experience far surpasses anything that you might read.

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      Dracula’s Castle
    13. Nuremberg, Germany – An unexpected surprise, so much history, both new and old that it became one of our favorite memories of our time in Europe.

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      Medieval City with Current History
    14. Paris, France – Not our first visit there, but it is still one of our favorite cities that we have ever visited, even if it was rainy the weekend that we were there.

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      Eiffel Tower
    15. Dublin, Ireland – A special trip for personal reasons as we flew our mother over to see us and it will hold a special place in our hearts.

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      The Irish Countryside
    16. Amsterdam, Netherlands – One of our last adventures while we were in Europe and definitely an interesting city full of history and art.

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      Canal Upon Canal
    17. Florence, Italy – Part of our farewell tour, this is an incredible city that will fulfill any romantic visions of Europe that you could ever dream of.

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      What an Amazing City
    18. Rome, Italy – So much to see, the history, the arts, the Vatican City, and for us a very special meeting with a fellow blogger.

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      The Roman Forum is Amazing
    19. Lucca/Pisa, Italy – A quick day trip from Florence, but it rounded out our trip to Italy perfectly.

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      Pisa is All About the Leaning Tower

So, as you can see, we had about twenty-five weeks in Europe, part of that time finding an apartment as well as working every week, but we definitely made the most of our time. It will be the trip of a lifetime, perhaps several lifetimes, and we are extremely thankful for every moment. Expect details of these wondrous adventures in the coming days and weeks as we plan our next crazy experience.

Many Miles Traveled for a Special Meeting

We mentioned several times as our time in Europe came to a close that we knew that Rome was definitely on our list of places to visit before we returned home to the United States. Obviously Rome is an incredible city that has so many sights worth seeing, but our goal was more personal. We have been chatting with a fellow blogger, Writing From My 14th Country, since the very early days of having started our blog. In fact, her encouragement has meant a great deal to us as we learned what it took to write a blog, and we appreciated all of the comments and conversations that we have had over the past year and a half.  We knew that she was based in Rome and it was our desire that perhaps we would get the opportunity to meet when we visited the city. She graciously extended the offer to meet and we enthusiastically accepted.

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Well Worth the Effort
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Fountain at Piazza Navona

Little did we know that despite having traveled from Colorado to Germany and then from Germany to Italy, that our meeting would require some additional searching. On the afternoon that we had agreed to meet, she called and let us know which Piazza she would be at and how we could recognize her. It was only a ten-minute walk from where we staying in the Piazza Navona, so we decided to go ahead and travel on foot versus getting a taxi. We asked one of the waiters for directions to Piazza Farnese, which we had written on a napkin and was our meeting location. He confidently pointed it out to us on our tourist map, which was indeed about a ten-minute walk. When we arrived at the specified location, a few minutes early, we quickly realized that this did not seem at all like what we were expecting, a large, busy, piazza. There was a sign on the wall of the building in the courtyard, Piazza Firenze. Obviously he had misread our note on the napkin, which was likely also misspelled.

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Walking the Streets to Meet
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Another View of the Fountain at Piazza Navona

With Google Maps to the rescue, we searched for the correct location, which was now twenty-minutes in the opposite direction from where we currently were. We spoke on the phone to let her know that we would be a few minutes late, but were on our way. We have described the streets of Rome as being like a bowl of spaghetti noodles where many streets intertwine, connect, loop, and change names at various intersections.  Following the directions on our smart phone, we briskly walked along the mostly empty streets passing by a piazza, but our phone said that we needed to continue on the street that we’d been walking. After a few blocks more, we ended up at the river, so we knew that we had gone to far. Another phone call apologizing for the inconvenience, we walked back to the piazza that we had walked by several minutes earlier and this time walked into the center of the square. Low and behold we had finally arrived in the correct place, albeit about 45-minutes late.

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We Were Lost
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Maybe We Should Have Asked Them for Directions

Our host then gave us a brief walking tour of neighborhoods that she had worked in years previously and we talked as if we were childhood friends reunited after years of separation. It was an amazing time, hearing about the neighborhoods of Rome from someone who actually lives there and talking about our shared adventures of blogging. Just a few blocks from our hotel, we stopped and enjoyed a bottle of wine together and chatted about life, blogging, travel, and our common interests. It was not only a magical experience that we shall cherish forever, but an affirmation that the time spent sharing our experiences is not just an anonymous endeavor. We hope that everyone will go out and check out Writing From My 14th Country, it is a wonderful site that is fun to read and provides insight into Italy in ways that only a local can provide.

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Narrow Streets
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While We Were Wandering

 

Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland

Christ Church Cathedral (The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity) sits in the heart of Dublin in the medieval section of the city. Dublin doesn’t have an old town like many other places in Europe that we have visited, but it does have some historical points of interest, of which this medieval church is one of its gems. Both the interior and exterior of the church are visually stunning, although perhaps not as ornate as some other churches from the period.

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Christ Church Cathedral
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Memorial in the Crypt
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Feels Like Ireland
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Inside of the Church

Of particular interest is the crypt that lies below the church. It contains the remains of many monuments and historical motifs that are quite fascinating to see. It is the largest crypt in all of Ireland or the UK and definitely worth taking the time to go below the church and checking it out. One of the oddities on display are a cat and rat that were mummified in the pipes of the organ in the 1800’s. Perhaps a little macabre, but still interesting.

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Mummified Cat and Rat from the 1860’S
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Another Crypt Memorial
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Pulpit
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Priest Tomb

Considering that the majority of Dublin is a modern city with only a few historical landmarks remaining, the Christ Church was well worth the visit. We ended up visiting the church on our first day in Dublin, partially just to get out of the rain, but we ended up passing by it a few times before our trip was over. Each time we passed by, we seemed to find another point of interest such as the memorial to the victims of the Armenian genocide and a “Homeless Jesus” statue that was gifted to the people of Ireland.

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Homeless Jesus
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Genocide Memorial
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Decorative Floor
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Looking Up

Clearly it is more spectacular on a bright and sunny day, but whatever the weather, we found Christ Church to be very interesting. Obviously the medieval architecture is always interesting, but the artwork is fascinating as well. Since we cannot and wouldn’t use flash photography, there is only so much that we could share, but hopefully you find it as interesting as we did.

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Another Memorial in the Crypt
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More of the Designs on the Floor