Saturday, October 15, 2011

Europe Day 2 - Rome (September 23rd)

We arrived in Rome and it was steaming hot. The airport was not air conditioned, so with our Minnesota clothes on we were sweating before we even picked up our backpacks at baggage claim. Once we collected our bags we were free to enter Italy. No customs or security to deal with.

Our next task was to get a train ticket from the airport to the city of Rome. We actually obtained the ticket and found the track easily. Finding a seat on the train wasn't so easy. The train was completely packed and we were carrying these enormous backpacks we had to find a spot for. We walked through at least three train cars before we finally found a couple open seats near a luggage rack. We ended up sitting in two seats facing an older Italian couple. The ride was going smoothly until a piece of luggage fell off the rack. It wasn't our luggage or the Italian couple's luggage, but this prompted the Italian man to notice we put our backpacks on top of the Italian man's suitcase. He was not happy about that and started yelling at us in Italian. We had no idea what he was saying, but Patrick kept his cool and just kept telling the guy he didn't know what he was saying. This made for quite the uncomfortable ride, since we had to sit facing these people the rest of the ride.

We arrived in Rome and needed to get on the Metro. The Metro Station was very busy and it ended up taking at least 20 minutes just to buy our tickets. We waited in line the first time and didn't have the correct change so we had to get out of line and get the correct change before we could get the tickets. All this time there are these bums at each machine telling you how to use the machine looking for tips. These people eventually got escorted out by the police, but not before this crazy bum lady told the police what she thought. After all that drama we finally got our tickets and got on the Metro.

We rode the Metro to our stop near the Vatican. And then began the search for the hotel. The directions seemed simple, but our lack of sleep and a good map did not help our search. At this point it is also noon and at least 85 degrees out. We ended up going past the street we needed to turn on, but after getting out my library book with a map included we realized that and found the street we needed to be on. We got to the hotel and of course it was too early to check in, so we waited in the "lobby" for our room to be ready. Luckily, we didn't have to wait too long.

We stayed at Hotel San Pietrino in the Vatican area of Rome. The room was reasonably priced, clean, had it's own bathroom, WiFi and it was in a good location. It was everything we needed for an enjoyable stay.

Hotel San Pietrino

Here was our view from our window. The little cafe looked like it would be good to try out, but we just weren't there long enough to check it out.

Hotel San Pietrino

Hotel View

After showering and a couple hour nap, we were off to explore the city. We didn't really have a plan for the night, but we figured we would go check out the Vatican and get something to eat.

Here is the Vatican.

Vatican

Vatican

Vatican

Vatican

As we were walking around some guy stopped us and told us we should eat at his restaurant. That should have been our first clue to find somewhere else to eat. The restaurant was in cool little alley and the weather was perfect to eat outside, but the food was just ok.

Dinner in Rome

We had Caprese Salad, bread, Prosciutto Pizza and Fungi Risotto. This was our most expensive meal of our trip and probably the least satisfying.

Rome Dinner

Trattoria

After dinner we decided we should just walk around and see Rome at night. We ended up doing a lot of walking that night. This street is filled with very expensive shops, Burberry, Coach, Louis Vuitton and even a Farrari store. At the end of the street is Piazza de Spagna or the Spanish Steps.

Piazza de Spagna

Piazza de Spagna

At this point we thought we could maybe walk to the Fontana di Trevi, which Patrick remembered being a highlight of his previous trip to Rome. We also decided we would take the Metro back to our hotel since it was getting later and we had already done a lot of walking earlier in the day. After following some Italian signs we ended up at a very small fountain in front of the Bernini Hotel, not what we were looking for.

Bernini

We finally ended up finding the Fontana di Trevi. It really is an amazing fountain. It is huge, it takes up the entire side of a large building.

Fontana di Trevi

Apparently those who throw a coin over their shoulder into the fountain will return to Rome in the future. We both donated to the cause, so we will see if we return.

Fontana di Trevi

And we weren't the only ones there. It was a popular place to be.

Fontana di Trevi

To cap off our trip to Trevi we treated ourselves to the first gelato of the trip.

Gelato

It was getting later, so we decided we should head to the Metro station to take it back to our hotel. Well, when we arrived at the station it was closed. It closed at 9pm on a Friday night for maintenance. So, began our very long trek back to the hotel. After a slight detour, we ended up back at the hotel safely. After our unexpected walk back to the hotel we ended up walking 24,555 steps or 12.2 miles on the first day of our European Adventure.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Europe Day 1 - Bon Voyage (September 22nd)

Today was the first day of our 12 day European Adventure through Italy and London. The plan was to fly into Rome, take a train to Florence and then another train to Venice and then fly to London to see the sights and to celebrate Patrick's friend Alex's wedding.

Our Thursday morning was pretty relaxed considering we were leaving the country for the next 12 days. We had packed our backpacks the night before, so really it was just a matter of collecting our phone chargers and small stuff and we were ready to head to the airport. We were also both feeling pretty good considering we had both had stomach issues earlier in the week. I guess our plan to only eat Jimmy John's the few days before the trip paid off.

Here we are with our backpacks. They didn't seem heavy at all when we were at home in 50 degree weather walking the ten steps from our house to the garage.

Our Luggage

Around 11am we made our way to Patrick's work and parked there to take a cab to the airport. Good thing we had them pick us up a little early since someone took the cab we reserved and we had to wait for another one to come pick us up. In the airport we ate lunch at the French Meadow Bakery, that was probably an expensive mistake $25 later we had two sandwiches and water.

We landed in Chicago with out any issues. Here is the beautiful Chicago skyline before we landed.

Chicago Skyline

Chicago & AA Plane

Our one hour flight from Minneapolis to Chicago went very quickly, however the nine hour flight from Chicago to Rome was the longest flight ever. The in flight entertainment sucked. The plane was too small to have individual screens on each seat and the movies they were playing on the main screen weren't that good, so we had to resort to our own entertainment. Patrick played hours of Sudoku and even managed to get to the hard level. I read a magazine, listened to part of an audio book and tried to sleep, but I was pretty restless and not that tired so that was pretty pointless. Needless to say we arrived in Rome at 9:15am Friday morning two very tired people.

Patio Table

Since Patrick has a new job and more time on his hands I suggested he make this patio table. In high school Patrick took quite a few shop classes and we have a lot of those items in our house that he made including a rocking chair, a couple end tables, a nightstand and even a couple games like a chess set and a mini pool table. So, this project ended up being something great to get back into that kind of stuff.

Here are pictures of the building process.

After spending a ton of money at Home Depot we came home with the supplies.

08.31.11

Supplies

More Supplies

First Patrick glued together the pieces for the legs.

Gluing

Then Patrick borrowed our friend Adam's miter saw to cut the boards.

Miter Saw

Cut Boards

And because of Patrick's superior math skills, this is the only scrap pieces that were left over.

Scrap Pieces

Patrick then used a clamp to glue and screw the base of the table together.

Using Clamp to Secure Base

Drilling

Board

Finished  Base

Then he started attaching the top boards to the base.

Putting Boards on top of Base

Putting Boards on top of Base

Drilling

Here is the table with all the board attached before Patrick added the plugs to fill in the screw holes.

Finished Table Top

He then sanded the table top down and filled in all the holes with plugs.

Sanding

All Angles of New Table

All Angles of New Table

And all this time I was inside booking hotels for our trip and editing photo sessions. Patrick took all these pictures himself. He did a great job documenting the process.

All Angles of New Table

After the table was built all Patrick needed to do was stain and varnish it.

Staining

Varnishing

And here is the finished product just in time for Meat Fest.

Finished Patio Table

Finished Patio Table

Adam & Maran's Housewarming

I am so behind on blogging right now and since I have very few pictures of our trip edited I figured I would catch up on the rest of our September.

On Saturday, September 10th Adam and Maran hosted a housewarming party at their new house. Patrick and I are in love with their new house and they may even inspire us to move to the country someday. The house is gorgeous, they live on 3.5 acres and it's only a short 8 miles from our house.

The previous owners had 10 kids, so we explored some of their old toys. Here are the girls on the playset.

Shanna, Kate & Kasie

And we all had to try out the tire swing.

Sara

Shanna & Kate

Kasie & Heather

To end the night we had a nice bonfire, where a couple people got "iced".

Sunset

Smores

Jachin being Iced