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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Good times to be had in the Mormon bubble......

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Italy!!!!

Ok- here it is- the beginning. Our tour started out in Rome, Italy.  We flew for 15 hours (for me it had been longer cause i started in Cali that same morning and met everyone in Salt Lake)  When we finally landed in Rome- after that long long flight where I managed to sleep for about twenty minutes- it was bright and early in the morning. And we had a full day of adventures ahead of us!   We went immediately to the Roman Forum and Colosseum.  I think everyone just kind of wandered around in a daze that day.  We were all so out of it- it felt like a dream.


One of our first nights in Rome having a wonderful wonderful gelato.  This was the guy who worked there and he wanted to be in our picture. He kept talking to us in Italian. I still have no idea what he was saying.
While in Rome, we stayed in a convent! How cool is that????  These were two of the nuns that lived there. They were the sweetest things EVER!!!!! The one on my right could speak English, but the one on my left (the shorter one) could pretty much only say hello and good morning. They were so sweet.  They let us use their chapel for our sacrament meeting and morning devotionals.  They loved it when we sang hymns and love it when BYU students come because we're so good! :)
In our free time, a group of us went to the Castle Church.  It was a huge building that in it's time has served as a castle, a fortress, a church and I believe a prison. It was beautiful.
Here is a view- isn't it breathtaking??? That's the castle church on the left.  It was so cool to be in. I seriously felt like I was in a Robin Hood movie or something.
This is at the top of St. Peters Basilica.  We climbed all the way up- there are almost six hundred stairs!  There was an elevator for the first part but we didn't want to pay for it so we did it all by foot.  Our legs were shaking uncontrollably by the time we got to the top.
Us at the halfway point climbing up to the top.  We rested for about five minutes to take this picture and then continued up to the top of the dome.
Mcdonalds has taken over Europe too!!!! They were EVERYWHERE! And very very popular.  This is the inside of one- look how many registers there are!!!! It was insane.  And the restaurant itself was HUGE- bigger than an entire food court at larger malls.  They are super fancy too- with gardens and statues and super nice everything.

A building we walked past- I'm not sure what it was, but it was pretty!
Any guesses on what this is?? haha- Just kidding. I can't tell you how cool it was to actually see the Colosseum in real life.  It's one of those things you just can't comprehend until you see it in person. It's HUGE!!!!!  And it's absolutely incredible.  We got to go in and see everything. The actual floor of the arena is no longer there, but you can see the underground tunnels and cages where they kept the gladiators, tigers, lions, rhinos and who knows what else for games.  
This is the Roman Forum, or in other words, ancient downtown Rome.  This is where everything was- the temples, shopping centers, political buildings and everything else that the Romans did on a daily basis.  It was amazing to see how much is still standing.  My favorite was the house and temple of the Vestal Virgins.  The Vestal Virgins were the ones who were in charge of keeping the flame of Rome lit. As long as that flame continued to burn, Rome would not fall.  Let's just say those virgins did NOT want to let that flame go out!  Their house (or what was left of it) was beautiful.  You can still see the pool in the middle where they could swim and bathe and the statues of past vestal virgins that stood within the walls.

What a breathtaking view!  All these climbs that we did were exhausting but they sure were worth it!


Oh Venice.......words cannot describe my love for this city! Prior to my trip, a lot of people had told me that Venice was a disappointment and not at all what they were hoping or expecting but I am here to say that this is NOT TRUE!!! It was everything I have ever dreamed of! It was so beautiful and so relaxing.  There were bands playing and the sounds of violins filled the air. I LOVED IT!!!!!! And i have decided that Venice would be the most romantic honeymoon ever.



Everyone in the class went on a gondola ride.  We divided up and got in the boats!
The classic shot that everyone has and yet you still have to take it too! :)  Leaning tower of Pisa! 

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Beautiful Austria!!!!

Austria was by far one of the most beautiful countries that we went to.  I never imagined that a place could be so GREEN!!!!! It was the kind of green you see when someone photoshops a picture to make it brighter.  So beautiful!!!  We spent our time in Salzburg- a small town that is absolutely gorgeous!  It's the town that Sound of Music takes place in! The hostel that we stayed in played the movie every night at 8 (in english, thank heavens!)  How cute is that?

The very first thing we did when we arrived was the salt mines.  Salzburg played a huge role in trade and was responsible for a huge portion of the salt trade in Europe. (the Salz in Salzburg means salt) So cool!  First we put on these white jump suits then rode this train type thing deep into the mountain.  Then we got on these HUGE wooden slides that take you down underground.  It was cold down there!
We then went through the tour about the history of the salt mines.  There were videos, demonstrations, at one point we even rode a boat across this lake thing.....it was crazy.
This is Jenessa and me having a very intense game of chess.  It was our 'Harry Potter' chess set.

Our hot but drunk German boys. The one in the middle has a sack full of walnuts.  He took them out, CRACKED THEM WITH HIS bare HANDS!!!! and kept offering them to us. They were good.
 They kept offering us cigarettes and trying to get us to go to the bar with them and when we told them that we don't drink or smoke.....they couldn't believe it.  "No drink? No smoke? NO BOYS???  What do you do for fun???" they asked 
"Lots of things," we told them.   We told them we were on our way to see Mozart's birthplace.
"They guffawed and told us how boring that would be.  "Go see OUR mozart.  It's part of our history- over there at the...how do you say.....water garden?"
"The water fountain?" I asked
"YES! the water fountain- go see our mozart!"
Pretty confused- we walked over to the water fountain they had directed us to and sure enough............
............there was a Mozart in it.  These were little stands that were outside almost every little souvenir shop selling Salzburg's famous Mozart chocolates.  They had apparently stolen one and placed in in this water fountain. haha.  Boys are the same in every country.
Me and my friend Jordan in our fun little Austrian hats!  Too bad mine wouldn't open all the way because the tag was on it.
The beautiful Salzburg Castle.  On our free time one day, a group of us decided to climb to the castle and do the tour.

A picture I took of the view while hiking up the mountain.  This is my favorite pic I took on the entire trip.
Finally up to the castle.  It was so much fun- and there was so much to go see and do.  We looked in the dungeons, the armory, the ballroom and tons of other places.  They even had this huge room set up with antique marionettes and stages to look at. They were gorgeous- it made me want to go to one of those puppet shows the royals had put on.
View from the very top of the tallest tower.
And of course while we were there, we went on the SOUND OF MUSIC tour!!!!! So cool- we saw everything. The house, the theater, the lake, we saw it all!
Here is the cemetary....I'm hiding just like the Von Trapps did!
This is where they ride their bikes through......
These are the giant garden gnomes that Maria and the children march around in Do Re Mi.

The fountain that they all sing and dance around.
I LOVED Austria.....I want to go back! If you go to Europe- do not miss this beautiful country.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

GERMANY

Germany was awesome!  We visited Berlin, Munich and Wittenburg.  Wittenburg was a smaller town and it was so cute! I wish we could have been there longer.  This is where a lot of the Martin Luther history took place.  We were able to go into the church where he nailed the 95 thesis to the door.  We had the opportunity to sing the hymn 'A Mighty Fortress' and a few other songs in the choir area of the church.  It was awesome.  For those of you who don't know, Martin Luther wrote that song.  It was so beautiful and spiritual.  When we were done, many people were gathered to listen to us.

German food was by far my favorite!  SO GOOD!!!! Look at this waffle- INCREDIBLE.  It was covered in cinnamon, powdered sugar, bananas and vanilla ice cream.  Yeah, I could eat that every day and be happy.  And I didn't put a picture on here, but after the waffle I had this omelet thing with potatoes and all kinds of veggies......i thought i was in heaven,


This is part of the Berlin Wall.....there were a few sections that were painted.  It was really cool.
Me standing on the border where the Berlin Wall used to stand.  If you look really closely, you can see where the actual remains of the wall start across the street behind me.  We walked along that and saw the remains of the hideout of Hitler's secret police.  There is a big long walk on the backside with articles and pictures and all the history of Hitler and WWII. So sad but really interesting.  It was too long to read it all, so we mainly just looked at the pictures.  But as they say, a picture says a thousand words.  Such a true statement.
ABSOLUTE BEAUTY.  This is Swan Lake- the one and only Swan lake that the ballet and all those stories are based off of. It was so gorgeous.  And all the trees were changing color.  My teachers said we were so lucky because last year they had missed those trees by about two weeks.  I am so glad that we didn't miss them.  We were speechless.
See- I made some friends!  haha- no really....all forty of us became so close. It's amazing that so many kids could become such good friends in a month.  They were awesome.  We truly became a family.  I miss them all so much!
A swan on swan lake!!!! Later there was an old man on the side of the lake feeding this swan....seriously a kodak moment.
If you think THIS is pretty- you should have seen it in real life!!! If you ever go to Europe- go in October! You won't regret it!
The famous Neuschwanstein Castle that Walt Disney based the disneyland castle off of.  It was so COOL!!!!! We got to tour it.  Unfortunately we couldn't take any pictures inside, but it was awesome.  It seriously looked like the castles in the cartoons and movies!  Giant jewels everywhere and large gaudy paintings and ridiculous amounts of gold.  There were giant swans and grand ballrooms- it was amazing.
We had to hike up the mountain to get to the castle- and boy was the hike GORGEOUS.  I didn't even care that we were walking uphill for an hour.  LOOK AT THOSE TREES!!!!!!!

Me in front of the castle....in case you couldn't tell.  And I'm wearing the scarf I bought in Berlin!
So pretty....even though it had SCAFFOLDING ALL OVER IT!!!! haha- we were kind of upset cause that kind of ruined the view....but it was still pretty!

Me and my cow friend!  I love him!

Um- so I don't generally like sausage and the few times I've had Bratwurst I thought it was nasty- but in Germany it is YUMMY! I loved this little stand that we found outside the 
Bahnhoff  (train station :)
We usually held our own Sacrament meetings in our hotels, but when we were in Germany we had a free Sunday and one of the professors found a ward so a group of us went with him and his wife. It was so cool!!!! It was a fast and testimony meeting and even though we couldn't understand a single word- the spirit was still the same and we felt what they were saying.