Monday, November 29, 2010

Venice Italy

Day 4
We boarded a sleeper train in Paris. It was Blakes first time on a train so we were all excited for him. Gary got a great interview, but we think the flip got left on the train..

Us just settling in for a night of sleep and travel.

We arrived in Venice bright and early. We didn't have a hotel booked, so that was the first order of business. We had searched the internet a bit for a hotel with room for four. So we walked to the closest one. Now Venice is amazing, but when it is rainy season and you are hauling a lot of luggage it can be not so fun..

The scenery around us was fantastic, but every time we had to cross a canal and carry all our bags up and down the bridges (with stairs on them) it got exhausting.

This picture is us taking a break on the first bridge we walked across.

Jen and I's bags were definitely the heaviest.. Go figure. So we kept swapping carrying them up the stairs.

We didn't really know where we were going.. We had the GPS out helping us, but with the narrow streets it kept loosing satellite signal so we got a little lost once or twice..

At one point we walked down this tiny street.. As we neared the end, we were in between two buildings that were clearly part of a school. The kids had a break so they were out smoking and going back and forth between the buildings. So here were the four of us making our way down this alley with luggage and they were looking at us all weird. After we all passed them we got to the end of the alley to water.. No walkway or corner to turn. Just water, so we all struggled to turn around and had walk past everyone again. They probably were just laughing at us.

We finally found this cute hotel that was perfect for us. Only two slight problems.. We had about 4 flights of steep stairs to climb to our room after we checked in. After walking for an hour through the streets of Venice, I was exhausted and starving. So getting to the room was a challenge. I was dying of heat!

This was us on the first set of steps at the hotel..

Venice was amazing.. It is like nothing you have ever seen or experienced. The whole city is on water, and it was not uncommon to walk to the end of a street and see this.

Something to note about our trip.. While planning it we had been watching the weather and it said it was supposed to rain every single day except the last Saturday. This wasn't just saying this in Paris or Venice, but also in Rome. So at this point on the trip we had only seen rain the night in Paris at the Eiffel Tower, but other than that we had really nice weather. The day we arrived in Venice was no exceptions. It was wonderful weather.

In a normal city there are buses or metro's, but in Venice there are water buses or water taxi's. It is crazy. This is Jen and Gary on the bus.

Excited about the blue sky!!

The view from the train station when we arrived.

It wouldn't be Italy without some Gelato. Jen was in heaven. Every corner had a Gelato shop, with hundreds of flavors.. However could
a girl choose.

Solution: Gelato several times a day with two different flavor scoops each time.

We toured Venice the first several hours by foot... Finally we decided to save our feet and take the water bus. We covered way more ground.

We went to San Marco piazza. Thus began the staggered photos you will start to see. We can thank Gary for starting the ks poses as we called them.

Gary showing his best ks pose

Before the trip Jen has picked herself up some grey Hunter rain boots. Probably the best purchase she made for the trip. She thought she would test out how waterproof they were!

As Jen would say, it was like she was photoshopped into this photo. It was picture perfect, and we were living in it.

They don't leak

The scenery was amazing..

I could have spent hours there taking pictures. It was spectacular.

So I didn't notice this until after, but take note of the two below pictures. I took them within minutes of each other. Although it is remarkable the change in lighting and stuff (thanks to a great camera and settings), that is not what to take note of. In the first picture the crane in the distance is facing right, in the second picture it is facing left. So crazy.

I absolutely love this picture. The sun was setting and Venice was beautiful. I couldn't help but stop and enjoy then moment.

One of the many times we walked down a road that only lead to the grand canal and nowhere to go, except back the way we came.

This was the view from the balcony at our hotel. So peaceful and pretty.

Out on the balcony

Another awesome picture. Jen was taking this of Blake and Gary and I jumped in. Blake is perfectly in focus and Gary and I both stuck our tongues out and are blurry. I love it. the guy in Paris would say.. city of romance. Can't imagine why, with views like that.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Day 3 Paris France

Day 3
We headed back to the Eiffel Tower to go up to the top. It was freezing cold. The wind was blowing and it was bone chilling cold.

The boys weren't super impressed with the Eiffel Tower ascent until they started reading that Gustavo Eiffel (the man who designed and built the Eiffel Tower) did experiments of throwing dead bodies off the tower to study bodies resistance to gravity. That made the Eiffel Tower a ton cooler in their minds!!

Heads fit through the bars.. barely..

Gary is an excellent photographer!

The view from the top of the tower

After we went to Notre Dame. We had a lot of fun taking pictures with the birds and playing out front.

Jen was having a photo shoot by Gary and doing all these poses on the light post. This Chinese guy walking by snapped a few photos of her and then kept walking, but each time she changed her pose he couldn't resist stopping and taking another picture. It was really funny. I can just imagine him returning home and showing family and friends pictures of his trip and then pictures of some random girl show up..

Now might be a good time to explain that throughout the trip we have been calling Gary "Papa Gary" or just "Papa". He has this valuable pouch that he has been wearing under his shirt and jacket. He has been so kind to carry all our cash, passports and cc cards. So throughout the trip if we need anything we have gone to Gary. Hence why we started calling him Papa Gar..

Feeding the birds!

Ok so I hate this photo, but I had to post it.. We were taking pictures and Jen had Gary's camera and snapped this photo...To explain...Gary was holding this bird and I leaned in to get closer for a photo Blake was going to take. Then the bird flew right in front of me and scared me to death.. Hence why I look the way I do. We have had some pretty good laughs about the picture.

Inside Notre Dame

Jen on the light post outside

Jen and Blake trying to attract the birds with no food!

Since it was freezing cold Gary wanted to buy a beanie so his head wouldn't freeze. So we found this little shop to the side of Notre Dame. The boys wanted to feel more European and fit in more so they bought scarves.

Gary found this fountain and snapped a few photos while Jen and I tried to find a place to exchange money.. At this point we had not changed any and were in need of Euros. Below is a picture of St. Michel fountain.

Jen, Gary and Blake on the metro headed back to the hotel.

This picture appears like Blake is disgusted by me, but in fact he was making the face at Gary and had no idea I was doing what I was...

Oh Jen...

We had an awesome day in Paris.. Fun pictures, good laughs, yummy food and cold wind. Thank you Jen for the extra pair of gloves!

Friday, November 26, 2010

St Michel- Normandy Region France

Day 2
We woke up and are a wonderful breakfast at the hotel. We grabbed a few loaves of bread and jam packets for the road and we drove to St. Michel.

When we had pulled into Avranches the night before we were in need of gas, but decided to wait until the morning.. We forgot that it was Sunday and nothing would be open. With Blake driving we headed out to St. Michel with little gas in the tank.

St. Michel
This place was amazing. It is this cute island with shops, hotels and a massive cathedral.

The four of us heading into St. Michel

The view from afar

Blake, Jen and I in the gates of St. Michel

Jen and I

Gary contemplating life..

I love this picture of Jen. She was sitting outside a door on the tops of St. Michel streets

Touring this place was amusing. People actually live and worship out there. You could tell this place was just full of secret tunnels and passage ways. It was amazing. Blake and Gary were like teenage kids.. So eager to explore every hall, door and opening they possibly could. It was so comical!!

They had these cute water things every where.

The structures and lighting in these places are magnificent.

Oh how I wished I had a tripod and hours of time to take pictures...

I came around this corner to see this wonderful garden. It looked so amazing on the corners of this cathedral. It is simply remarkable how they utilize their space and needs.

This was in the center of the cathedral. My guess was it was used to bring up water. It was funny to see
Gary get in it and pretend he was a mouse. See below for the picture.

Gary in jail...

Blake and a spectacular view.

It would not be a typical tourist spot without a gift shop at the end.. Jen and Blake ready for a sword fight.

This picture makes me laugh so hard.. Kind of bad, more just so funny. This gives a inkling if insight to how Gary and Blake were throughout the whole trip and tour.. There are plenty more just like it.

Gary in the wheel!

We ate lunch at a small cafe style place.. It was pretty good food, but the lady was not friendly.. We found cherry coke, which was a shocker.. So we all bought one and enjoyed!!

Jen enjoying her fruit tart

St Michel was a beautiful tour. We had some good laughs, and made some tourist laugh.

After we left we had the realization that we had no Euro's, no cards that worked in their gas pumps and NO GAS.. Our gas light had been on since the night before. Gary was stressed, Blake wasn't worried at all, and Jen and I just kept praying we didn't run out of gas. Gary actually was sick to his stomach he was so worried. We jumped on the freeway and about 40 kilometer later found a gas station that was open! It was a relief!

Gas light on..

We got a smile out of Blake as he watched Gary worry about running out of gas.

Finally some petrol as Gary would say.

Jen on top of Panda at the gas station.. People were giving us weird looks and there may have been a small dent afterwards but so funny!

We continued our travel into downtown Paris. It started to rain and the traffic was bad, but Blake did a good job driving. Thank you again GPS. We headed to our one and only booked hotel for the whole trip. It was in a tiny street and I think we drove around the block, hotel and area at least three times, before finally parking several blocks away and hauling our luggage there. We were lucky to even find the parking spot we did. The hotel was definitely not as nice as it had been advertised on the Internet, but it worked and it slept four.

After we got back in the car... (had been in the car most the day) we headed to the airport to return the rental car. Again another funny adventure. Thank you GPS for getting us there, even though several times you thought we were on the right, road, but then would say.. RECALCULATING..

On the train ride back at 11:00 pm we decided to make a detour to the Eiffel Tour to snap a few pics at night..

We emerged the train station to rain coming down, but we were in Paris and we didn't seem to mind.

Jen and Blake

Gary and I

Such a cute shot of Jen

It wouldn't be an adventure without some jumping photos.. What can I say..They are my favorite


Gary and I jumping

The Eiffel Tower amazes me.. It is so pretty and it so tall. Truly a work of art!

Jen and I jumping.. Too funny

Never a dull moment and always having fun.

It was a great day and we were exhausted by the time we got back to the hotel room.

That night Gary took some ibuprofen pm and nyquil. I was peacefully sleeping in bed when all the sudden the hotel door opens and Gary is poking his head outside the room. He was asking where he was.. After Blake told him, he came and crawled in my twin bed with me and fell asleep.. So bizarre right.. Half asleep and being under the covers and Gary on top I was pinned.. After a bit I woke up dying of heat and had to get up. Me moving woke up Gary.. He sits up and asks " what are you doing.. I had no idea you were back there". Back there... I was in bed the whole time.. So I got up and moved to Gary's bed. The following morning we laughed so hard I was crying.. oh GARY!