Sunday, September 23, 2012

Europe: part 7

Worst night of the Trip/ Venice:
At about 430 am, we arrived in Verona Italy. Everyone in the bus had to get off and get on a train the rest of the way to Venice. We were too tired to care about being in Romeo and Juliet’s love land of Verona.  We crawled into our train and both were dead asleep all the way to Venice.  We arrived in Venice on time at about 7 am. We were so tired at this point! 

We went and found the nearest café and grabbed some croissants for breakfast. We were lucky because they were actually pretty cheap, delicious and filled with jam! We then went back to the hotel and waited outside the door for the person in charge of the hostel. We got to leave our bags there and we left to explore the city. We decided that even with our lack of sleep, we needed to put on a happy face and enjoy Venice in all its glory.  We bought waterbus passes, and took it down the main waterway of Venice.  

We took it a few stops and got off at this big tourist stop with a big square and long line to get into this cathedral. 

We decided the wait was not worth seeing the cathedral they were in line to see and instead we headed to the outer island to see the beach.  Once we found the beach, we pulled out our lunches and ate some deli food we picked up earlier that morning.
The Adriatic Sea

We stumbled upon a harry potter bus!  Brian liked it :)

When we headed back to our water taxi, we noticed a really cheap gelato shop.  Of course, how can anyone turn down gelato, especially Brian?  We ended up getting some, and it was amazing. Best gelato of the trip for sure.   The guy heaped the ice cream on and then poured chocolate syrup on top.  Can life get any better than this?  I submit that it cannot!  

After eating every bit of that deliciousness, we got on the boat and rode back to the main part of Venice.  We hopped off and began to tour the city seeing all the waterways running through the city.  

I have to say though..this was one point of our trip where Brian and I did not have a good experience.  We got lost!  We had a map, but we could not follow the map!  It was totally confusing.  We couldn’t find the main waterway again, and if we did find the waterway, the watertaxi could only be entered on the other side of the water!  There are bridges that we could walk to, but we had to walk back into the city and loop around to get to the bridge, ending in being lost once again! sometimes the sidewalk would just...end into some water...  

Finally after about an hour and a half, we found a bridge that could take us to the other side to get on the waterbus!  By this time any waterbusses we were riding were cram packed and standing room only. The workers would give a constant "permiso" to move around and then start yelling in Italian and gesturing for us to make room for the huge group about to get on. Each stop I swear there were five people to get off and ten more on. How they fit baffles me.   Our feet were KILLING us!  We did, however, see lots of beautiful bridges while we were on the waterbus though.  

We got back to our hostile about 3 pm and had a nice nap in the afternoon where we rested our poor feet from walking everywhere. While we were resting, our new roommate from France came in.  He was meeting his girlfriend from the United States there that evening. They were a nice couple, and we didn't see much of them. We headed out again, roamed the city, and got dinner at a nice sidewalk cafe right next to a cool cathedral. fun clips of the night:

This ended the day well.  We headed back to our water taxi that took us back to our hostel for the night.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Europe: part 6

Brian loved this place so much, So I will let him write about this day. Brian:  Church today! Lots of the members remembered me, which was awesome. We went to church and brother Auras (the branch president) told me I would be speaking/bearing my testimony.. in a small branch they dont pass up fresh blood:) So, I got to bear my testimony in German again:) Michelle had a hard time, as she couldn't understand the entire time. After church we had spatzle (doughy noodles).  Then, a few of the Aurus boys and I tossed a plane out the 2nd story window a couple of times.  

Michelle and I went for a bike ride. 

Michelle kept falling :( We saw sister fritz, one of the few converts I was able to see, and an amazing woman. She is actually working on being able to be a temple worker! Michelle had a hard time again with the language barrier. 

We tried to stop by on two other people I taught who sadly weren't there. We spent some time in the  city.  Pictures are worth a thousand words:

St. Martins Church in Landshut

After touring the city, we biked back and met the Auras' other friends who were also from America and just stopping in. We had a small meal and then headed to the train station. It was fun and nice to get to know brother Auras better.

Worst night of the trip: 
From Landshut, we decided to head back on a train to Munich then catch an overnight train to Venice, Italy.  We bought tickets about 5 days prior and actually splurged to get an actual bed on the train ride to Venice.  We got to Munich at about 8:30 and we were told the train would be leaving at 9.  When we looked on the train board for our train, it was not listed.  Brian was listening to an announcer who said There was some sort of blockage on the tracks, so our reserved train would not be going that night.  Lucky us, they had replacement busses instead, NOT! There was crazy confusion everywhere trying to load three big busses with 2 going to Rome and the 1 going to Venice. We finally got on our bus, and of course, it was hotter than blazes on it. Then when we finally started moving, the "air" was like the breath of someone whispering to you.  

I was okay but Brian gets really hot really fast. To try to make everyone on the busses happy, they handed out free beer for those who wanted it..  We stopped for a half hour break at about 3 am.  Brian went outside to try and cool off, got as cold as he could in the breeze.  He said we were in the alps by that point. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Europe: part 5

Salzburg and Landshut:

Brian woke up at 7:30 that morning and I said to him that I needed more sleep.  I should have just gotten up with him because our roommate was still in the room sleeping too.  Finally at 8, I started to wake up and our roommate was getting out of bed too.  It was extremely awkward because Brian was out of the room down the stairs on the internet or something.  I just jumped off my bunk, grabbed my clothes I set out the night before and ran to the bathroom, changed and came back in.  I was brushing my hair and wondering where Brian could be and how awkward I felt to have a guy that wasn’t Brian in the room with me.  AWKWARD.  I survived though.  I left quickly and found Brian heading back to our room..probably to wake me up.  He was surprised to see me up and ready to roll.  We stopped in and got some breakfast at the hostel café, then we left to see the last things we had missed the previous day in Salzburg.  We went to the mirabell gardens and walked around there for a while.  We found this beautiful statue..Brian hugged it :)
Unicorns, I love them, Uni Uni Uni-corns

This place was super pretty with so many beautiful flowers
After Mirabell gardens, we found the old cemetery featured in the Sound of Music. 

We lounged around the city making tons and tons of gelato stops.  We actually walked into an area that had a beautiful fountain.  As we were coming up to the fountain, we noticed there were some fun little games sitting on the ground.   We enjoyed those games for about an hour trying to master them.  They dominated us though.  I did take a picture of Brian finding a unicycle and riding around the fountain, but it will not be added in this blog for fitness sake.  

We then headed back to our hostel, grabbed our bags and got on the train for Landshut. Talk about the train ride from hell.  The train we got on was a two car, no air conditioning, old junker train.  The train was two hours that felt like four. There were some weird people on that train that tried to sell us underwear.  Our poor German Chocolate melted too!  Way to improvise Bri guy!

We finally  got to Landshut and met up with with Brian’s old branch president named Brother Auras. He took us the long way home and showed us the city a bit.  We went to his house and had a barbeque with the missionaries and brother Aurus' lovely family.  They had so many different kinds of meats and delicious sides! The missionaries were fun to see as well because Brian talked about the good old days on his mission with them.  They talked with each other about converts that Brian had, reactivation of some members, and much more.  Brother Aurus treated us that night to some gelato.  We talked a lot together eating speaking German, etc. 
(taken in Salzburg)

We took over one of Brother Aurus’s boy’s room that night and slept so well.  We sure loved staying with the Aurus Family.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Europe: part 4

Salzburg, Austria:

We woke up and got everything ready to leave from Munich.  We got on our train, and bid Munich farewell. We arrived in Salzburg pretty early, walked to our hostel and dropped our bags off. We went directly back to the train station and took a train to Hallein where we had to wait for an hour for the right bus to come and take us to the salt mines. It was a very pretty bus trip up to the mines.

We bought our tickets and went down into the mines. They had us dress in mining clothes, which were all white, and then we rode a little trolley that pulled benches you had to sit on by strattling it.

The mine was cold and dark.  The guide’s accent in English made it harder for me to understand than her German because it was so thick. While we were down there, we crossed country borders and headed back into Germany.

There were two really fun wooden slides that we went down while in the mines.  The slides were like two banisters side by side that you would straddle and slide down.  Those were by far the best things about the mines.  They each were pretty long slides!

Down in the mines, we were told that it was a constant 10 degrees in the mines because of the air flow and how far into the hills we were. After crossing back over into Austria, we went on a little boat ride into the mines where the guide explained this is how they extracted salt from the mines.  After our adventure in the mines, we went back to Salzburg on the train.  We decided that all the sights of Salzburg were pretty close so we decided to walk all of it because our feet were finally feeling a little better.  We walked all over the city and saw a ton of beautiful cathedrals.

We went up to the castle at the top of a hill in Salzburg, here is where Brian and I had a breakdown with tiredness and hurt feet because it was the end of the day, but we made it to the top!  It was completely worth it for the view alone.

After seeing the castle, we stopped at the base of it and had a charming meal in the biergarten.   I don’t know what we had, but it was really really good.  After eating, we made our way back to our hostel for the night.

One thing about hostels is that you have to share rooms if you want a cheap one.  We had a roommate while in Salzburg.  He was a touch odd when we met him in the middle of the day.  Luckily he stayed out until 1 am so we didn’t have to deal with him much that night.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Europe: part 3


Thinking our alarm would be going off at six to make our 6:51 train, we woke up at 640 in a panic! We both got out of bed, changed and ran to the train station as fast as our little hurt feet could get us to go in order to catch it.  One thing I learned while in Europe, German trains are NEVER late.  Brian and I watched our train pull away as we ran up to it at 6:53.  It was ok because we decided to go ahead and get some breakfast pastries (johannisbeer streusel and Butterbreze). I actually had some time to get my hair brushed before the next train left for Fussen an hour later.  This is the day I discovered the most disgusting thing in Germany..I am sure you have heard of it, it is called carbonated water.  Yes, it is as gross as it sounds.  If you want to try some, just press the soda button at Taco bell and taste what comes out. Its disgusting.  After waiting an hour on our train, the train starts to pull away and down plops two Asian girls who talk NON STOP in Chinese for the 2 hour train ride to Fussen! 

We had fun tho taking pictures out the window :)

When we got to Fussen, we grabbed a bus to take us the half mile to the castles.  I am sure you are thinking, oh ½ mile, we could have walked... No we couldn't have, our feet would have fallen off. We got to the castle area and bought passes to see both castles.   We first saw hohenschwangau.  I was loving this beautiful castle the whole time we were inside and outside of it!  

Brian knew the next castle would be way better.  My thoughts though were, that nothing can beat the bedroom with stars that could be lit from behind and the hanky-panky secret tunnels between the king and queen’s rooms.  

After going through that castle, we hiked up the "40min" trail in 20 minutes, by which time Brian was dying of hunger. We got 2 salami sandwiches called semmel, then continued our hike to the marienbrucke (bridge) which was totally worth it. 

We crossed this beautiful bridge, and off to the right of the bridge, the alps, to the left, the beautiful castle.  Of course Brian was right, The 2nd castle was SO much better than the other castle.  The tour of this castle was awesome (except for those dang Asians in our tour group who talked the whole time and cut us off at every corner of the castle) Inside this castle, we saw his man made cave, his private concert hall with different statue pieces on top of the pillars, the throne room without a throne and a huge chandelier with 1100 candles, and the secret door to his bathroom, that had a padded chamber pot.

After touring this beautiful castle, we headed back on the bus to the train station where a train took off for Munich just 5 minutes later.  When we got back to Munich, we went straight into a schnitzel house to get a bite to eat. It was neat to see that most waiters and waitresses wear dirndl and lederhosen (the formal German attire). After eating some yummy dinner we walked around looking for a Market place that sold delicious German chocolate.  We couldn't find one in the area we were in, so we took the train (s Bahn) to Giesing where Brian served his mission for 6 months and knew exactly where a store was for chocolate.  I have never witnessed with my eyes an adult act like an awestruck kid in a candy store.  He loaded up on way too many treats.  We actually tried to see if the elders were home so Brian could see the apartment he lived.  They weren’t home though, dang. Brian said it was so much fun seeing and smelling Munich and the things he saw and did just 5 years ago.  He kept saying that he was getting these feelings of dread, that he needed to be doing missionary work after all our p-day activities were finished.  He is silly.