Thursday, August 7

To Sum It Up

Instead of apologizing for my long absence from the blogging community, I am going to flood you with pictures that do all the explaining, because seriously folks...I've been busy! My entire family came out to visit me and we toured around Europe for just over 2 weeks, which was the longest holiday in the history of holidays for my family. Some pictures I don't have my hands on just yet... but I will soon. So I will put up some of the pictures that I do have that include the latter part of our trip--Italy. This being the case, I am going to skip the first week-and-a-half of our holiday for which I am lacking in visual aids, and show you that which I do have entertainment for.

First stop with pictures, the amazing Cinque Terre. The five villages nestled along the Italian cost line are unlike anything I have ever seen. Colorful, beautiful, charming, and full of life and fun (and tourists) it was probably my favourite spot!

Mom and me on the trail between Corniglia and Vernazza. There are neat hiking trails that connect all 5 towns, it was so beautiful!

Corniglia, the village we stayed in. All the villages looked like this, so picturesque and beautiful!

Jumping in the water in Vernazza! We spent most of the day swimming and having fun!!
The picture of tired travelers, waiting for a train at the Florence station.

We continued on to Rome, (hitting Florence and Pisa along the way). We saw all the sights, the Colosseum, which was within walking distance of our apartment, the Vatican, Palatine Hill, The open bus tour took us to all the important sights, and we even spent a day in Pompeii!

Boys "Gladiator Fighting" at the Colloseum.

My brothers are awesome.

Me in the Sistine Chapel. I have this thing where, if someone says "no photography", I have an uncontrollable urge to take a photo. They are so strict on pictures here that they have been known to delete entire memory cards and/or confiscate cameras from naughty tourists. This just adds to the excitement and I cannot resist. Apparently, I come by it honestly though...because who knew my dad was the same way. He was taking pictures here like it was his day job. GO DAD!

Mom and me at the Vatican.
Trevi Fountain!
Family at Pompeii
I like this one because you can see Vesuvius in the background.


After that it was a lot of sad goodbyes at the airport (even though I look...happy? What a bad picture) before the family headed back to the colonies and I to London were I spent a week before...

Europe Trip number 2. This time, with friends. A completely different experience staying in 16 bed hostels rather than 3 star hotels, and I was in charge of everything. Passports, train tickets, plane tickets, timetables, places to stay, where to eat, what to do, making sure nobody gets lost... I now know exactly how my dad felt on the family trip. Its still fun...but the moments of my brainlessness and air headedness were limited.

We started in Paris, where--much to my grief--my camera was stolen. So, I have no pictures of my last time in Paris. And I don't have a camera any more...which put a small damper on my attitude towards the responsible party in my group. I did, however, kidnap my friends camera for the duration of the trip and though it didn't take quite as nice of pictures as mine did, it wasn't bad. Better than nothing I guess!

Stop number two, and best stop of the trip, was Switzerland. We arrived into Interlaken, took a train, a bus, and a tram to get to our destination of Gimmelwald. It is this small little farming village nestled into the Swiss Alps. You walk out of the hostel and the scenery explodes in your face, and you think that perhaps you have died and gone to heaven. It is absolutely perfect! We spend the days hiking around, and relaxing under breathtaking summer skies, snacking on Alpskasse (Alp-Cheese). The last day we were there, Ryan and I were going to hike to the top because the view from up there was supposed to be incredible. But then, on our ascent, we saw a parachute fly above us in the air...and we just couldn't help ourselves. We went Paragliding instead! It was definitely one of the better moments of my life.

Since Gimmelwald is a small farming village, they have these cowbells that they put on the cows according to size.

I bought this cheese from a little Swiss lady who spoke almost no English, so I had to rely completely on my German (which is not "Swiss-German" by the way) to keep me from starving. I did pretty good and we managed to understand each other quite well!

If Heaven isn't all it's cracked up to be, Send me back to Gimmelwald!!!

Driving the Parachute!

From Gimmelwald, we took the tram, the bus, and the train back into civilization, then boarded another train to Milan, where we caught a flight to Barcelona. It was a long day, especially for me, trying to keep track of everything and every one! Luckily, we made it, on time and in tact, still in possession of our one and only camera. Thank goodness!

Like this picture too.

Barcelona was great, though the guys I was with didn't particularly care about seeing the sights, they just wanted to "Chill." So the first day, I complied, hoping that they would see reason after one day of doing absolutely nothing but... my logic didn't win through. We spend the majority of the first day just hanging on the beach, working on my tan. I did get in the water to go swimming, which was...interesting. I was just playing in the waves with Brady and Ryan, when Brady suddenly starts swimming towards shore. Ryan and I just thought I was tired. Then, about 10 minutes later, I felt a sharp burning pain on my hand and my leg, and looked down to see Jellyfish in the water all around me! I started freaking out a little, so much that I couldn't really yell and Ryan who was about 10 feet away from me in the water...I just booked it as fast as I could to get myself out of the infested water! When I came back and sat next to Brady on the beach, he was like "oh yeah, I saw those jellyfish, that's why I got out". Thanks for the warning. Another good warning came 20 minutes later when the cost guard raised the yellow flag "due to jellyfish present in the water". Thanks for that. My skin turned a horrible shade of red and started bubbling up. What did I do about it everyone asks? No, contrary to beliefs either based on fact or a particular episode of Friends, I did not pee on it. I didn't even seek medical help (I don't know why...I just didn't) But I just dealt with the burning in my leg for the next 6 hours. I didn't get back in the water after that.

We tried this new fruit...Ryan loved it...I thought it was nasty. Wish I knew what it was called!

I spent the majority of the next days by myself in Barcelona, touring the sights and seeing everything Gaudi. I had a nice time. After our 3 and a half days in Barcelona (too much time there, not enough in Switzerland!) we flew to Edinburgh. I was concerned about this flight because, if you recall, the last time I entered the country (not through Ireland, where there is no passport control) the Immigration officer who stamped my passport said that I would not be allowed back in if I left. So for good reason, I was worried. The nice little Scottish man at the border was questioning me, and it seemed evident to me at one point that he was unable to let me pass. Then, he looked back through my passport and said to me "Utah huh? Are you a Mormon??" My wide eyes stared at him while the giant lump in my throat came closer to the surface. I told him I was. Then he said, "Well, then I know you're honest, and you won't stay past the allotted time" (my flight back to Utah was in 5 days) and just like that, he stamped me in. I had to pick my jaw up off the floor to thank him and be on my way.

Edinburgh was more beautiful than I had remembered. Some may recall at the starting of this blog, that's where I was living before making the leap down to London. I got to see some old friends and visit the sights a little. It was so nice!

That big hill/mountain you see behind them...we climbed that. Pictured are Paul (Brady and Ryan's friend) then Ryan and Brady. LOVE this picture, probably one of my favourite ever. It has a distinctive subliminal message...if anybody picks up on it.

When we got to the top of that hill/mountain I told you about, Brady decided he was going to skateboard down it.... And Ryan kept doing back flips and handstands on the edge. I was a little stressed.

Back to London again, we spent most of the time with the family I have been staying with, which is what I wanted to do, and one day in London. The family even surprised me with a going away party and invited most of my friends!

I can't believe it is over, and that my time in England is history...I will keep this blog up though because, heavens knows, there are many more (local) adventures to come!