Saturday, August 30, 2008

Back from Europe, back to school

I got back from Europe on Tuesday, and I've been at home in Portland this week. It's been nice to relax. Traveling is hard work, it turns out, and being home has been great. I'll be posting blog entries about Europe over the next few weeks. 

John and I generated massive amounts of pictures and video on our trip:
  • 31 videos, totaling over 1 GB
  • Over 1500 pictures, which add up to more than 2 GB
No one in their right mind would want to look through all of that, so I've been going through all of the pictures this week, trying to choose the ones that are interesting. You can see the results of my sifting in my Europe 2008 photos when you get a minute.

I'm flying back to Provo today, and school starts on Tuesday. I'm excited to begin my last semester. It's funny: being on vacation for three weeks has made me really look forward to school. I'm excited to go back and be with friends, learn, and enjoy Utah's beautiful outdoors.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Nice, the Cinque Terre, and Rome

I'm sitting in a hostel in Rome right now. This week we started off in Nice, in southern France, then took a train through the Riviera along the Mediterranean to five small towns called the Cinque Terre, and finally headed further south in Italy to Rome.

Nice was hot and filled with French tourists on holiday, but it was really beautiful. We had a cool roommate from Serbia there, and we ate dinner at a French restaurant with accordian music in the background. We also went swimming in the Mediterranean—my first time really swimming in the ocean.

We took a train along the coast to Monterosso, and I was amazed with the hills in the Riviera. It was really beautiful, and it was filled with houses all the way along the journey. When we got to Monterosso, we were scrambling to find somewhere to stay, and after turning down a €70/person/night hotel, we found a €11/person/night camping area. We found out that we had to have a tent there, so we improvised one out of a tarp and cord.

The next day we hiked 10km between the towns, stopping for gelato (Italian ice cream) at each town. Melon (cantaloupe) is my favorite flavor, I think. The hike was beautiful, and we climbed down some rocks to the ocean right before the last town.

We caught an afternoon train to Rome and checked into a really hot hostel without AC in a really hot city. We had some English roommates who kept telling us about "cringing" (crude or shocking) movies. Not the best experience.

Yesterday morning we did laundry and booked hostels and hotels for the rest of the trip, since we're tired of having to worry about that every other day. We're book for all but one place now, which is nice.

We headed to the Vatican in the afternoon, only to discover that yesterday and today (the two days we're in Rome) are the two days in August that the Vatican museum is closed (for the Catholic holiday of the Assumption of Mary). No Sistine Chapel for us. The whole city is shut down today. We did get to see St. Peter's basilica yesterday, though, which was amazing. It's the largest church in the world, and its architecture is absolutely amazing. We climbed up 351 stairs to the cupola (the outside of the dome at the top) and looked out over all of Rome. Nice place they have here.

On the schedule for today: a bunch of old Roman stuff. We're off to Florence tonight, and then Milan on Monday, and Switzerland on Tuesday.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

London and Paris

I arrived in London on Tuesday, and we left Friday night by coach (and ferry over the Channel) after missing our train through the Chunnel.

London was a lot of fun, and it felt good to be back. We saw King Lear at the Globe, which was fun, and saw lots of the other standard sights. Missing our train was a bit of an adventure, but things worked out.

We arrived in Paris this morning and discovered that it's harder when not everyone speaks English, but it's been a fun day. We saw Versailles and ate bread and cheese in the magnificent gardens before taking a little nap there. Then we saw the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower, both of which are way bigger than I thought. We had crepes for dessert tonight.

Tomorrow I'm really excited to go to church in Paris, and we'll spend much of the day relaxing and visiting the Louvre. Tomorrow night we're off to Nice for a day, and then to Italy!

Monday, August 04, 2008

I'm off to Europe

I finished my Apple internship on Friday and drove back to Utah on Saturday. My internship went really well, and I've made a lot of good friends in California, so it's sad to be leaving. It's been a great summer so far.

Life isn't too bad, though: I'm off to Europe tomorrow with my friend John B., and I'll be there for the next three weeks. :) It's going to be quite the adventure. We're flying to London, and then we'll loop down through France, along the coast of Italy, and back up through Venice to Switzerland. We'll make a little side trip to Germany before flying back to the U.S. from Z├╝rich.

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We'll be traveling light, with small(ish) backpacks, and our itinerary is pretty flexible. The first week is pretty well mapped out, but the rest of the trip is a lot more fluid. Hopefully we won't have to spend too many nights in a train station. :)

When I get back, I'm going to Portland to visit my parents for a few days, and then it's back to school for my last semester. The last few weeks of summer are going to be a whirlwind.