Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Disneyland Paris: Day 1

Back in April, for Spring Break, we took an adventure to Disneyland Paris!!! We're all pretty big fans of Disneyland and we were excited to enjoy the excitement in Europe. France is notorious for it's road tolls, I think at one point we paid 30-some euro on one toll. Craziness. 

We were pretty excited as we got closer and closer. We had stopped in Ramstein (an Air Base here in Germany) the night before so we really only had a 4 hour drive Saturday morning. The anticipation was killer ... 

FINALLY ... we saw a small glimmer of hope that we were getting closer. 

Those last 10km were killer ;) 
Then, we saw the glorious sight we had been waiting for, for months!! 

We parked the car, and headed off! This hotel was amazing. I'm pretty sure if we were rich, we would have stayed here. Gorgeous! You head under the hotel for the ticket office and park entrance...

Seriously...we were so excited to be there. I don't think there was any amount of sadness in our family for the next 3 days. Disneyland does that to people! We ended up getting 3-day park hopper passes which ended up being plenty of time to see and do everything! 

Since we went in April, everything in the park was decorated for Spring. The theme was "Swing into Spring" ... I loved these dancing bushes. They had a Mary Poppin's theme going on for the front gazebo. We happened to walk into the park right as they were starting a performance. So fun! 

We headed down Main Street towards Discoveryland (their version of Tomorrowland) ... and oh the Castle! I only took my phone into the park so some of the pictures aren't the greatest but, you can still imagine what it would be like to live in a Disney castle...

The first ride we rode was the Buzz Lightyear ride. Next up, was Autopia. Kason was my chauffeur. Then I went over and stood in line for Space Mountain. This Space Mountain was pretty intense! There was a loop inside and it shoots you up pretty fast, right at the start. After I rode, we did the parent swap and Brad got to ride it. He doesn't love roller coasters, so he didn't enjoy it quite as much as I did. 

 (that's Space Mountain...that tube off to the side is where it shoots you into the coaster, you start outside and end up in the dark. pretty amazing if I do say so myself...)

In Frontierland, we wanted to do the Haunted Mansion but, it was closed so we headed over to Big Thunder Mountain. This roller coaster was also a LOT more intense than the one in California. Kason...did NOT enjoy it. Tears were had (oops, one sad moment...) but, I was proud of him for going on it. He's a trooper. And also, seriously fun to go to Disneyland with an "older" kid who finds enjoyment out of the rides...makes the experience so much fun! 

(sweet Kason trying to smile after a not-so-fun ride for him...)

Disneyland Paris put an Arabian spin on their Adventureland. We headed over there and road Pirates of the Caribbean. Sadly, Indiana Jones was closed and there wasn't much else in Adventureland. You could explore a pirate ship and Tarzan's treehouse. Aladdin left his lamp laying around, too. 

On our way out of the park, we stopped in Fantasyland to try and pull out the sword, then we followed Mickey out of the park so we could go check into our hotel and get some dinner. 

We stayed next to the park in the Kyriad Disneyland Hotel. They had a free shuttle (that was often packed full...especially at night) and free parking, so it worked out well for us! Kason was mostly just excited for the bunk beds. 

After we got settled, we took the shuttle back to Disneyland. Before we went back into the park we wandered Disney Village to try and find some dinner. We stumbled upon this AH-MAZ-ING sandwich shop, Earl of Sandwich. Oh goodness, it was delicious. (I'm starting to think we have eaten our way through many of our trips have delicious food attached to it...Hmm.) 

Then we headed back into Disneyland to ride a few more rides (Haunted Mansion being one of was open again!) and waited for the firework show. The show ended up being cancelled because of technical difficulties so we vowed to come back another night to enjoy the spectacle. And that was the end of our first amazing day in Disneyland Paris!! 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Zurich, Switzerland

On our way home from Rome, we scheduled our flight so we would have a 7 hour layover in Zurich. We got off our flight, locked up our luggage and then hopped on the train into Zurich. The train was quick and only 15 minutes to the train station. We got about $70 worth of Swiss Francs and headed on our way! 

Their money was the prettiest I have ever seen! 

We walked the main shopping stretch, got some {super yummy} lunch (that cost us about $30) and ate it overlooking the pier. The views were AH-MA-ZING! 
(I didn't take my big camera & my phone didn't do the greatest job of giving the beauty justice!) 

After lunch, we wandered through the town and eventually ended up with some delish, delish, delish!! chocolate. It melted in our mouths and made me want MORE! However...we ended up with no more money. Holy - moly is Switzerland expensive or what!? We spent $70 on lunch and chocolate. Either we're major fat kids or Switzerland is only meant for millionaires...

After we had spent all our Francs and seen what we cared to see, we headed back to the airport to catch our flight home! 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Final Day as a Roman...

Our last full day in Rome, we decided to walk to church. We looked on the map and it really didn't look very far so, we headed out, thinking it would only take 30 minutes or so. But, as we walked and walked...and walked, we realized it was a lot further than we thought it was. But, it was too late to stop then! After what seemed like a hundred right and left turns and just over an hour of (fast) walking...we came upon the church building!! {hallelujah!} Thankfully for us, they were running on true Mormon time combined with Italian time and they were just starting the meeting, despite us being about 20 minutes late. I love having a church family anywhere in the world! 

It was the cutest branch with so many (American) visitors and probably 3 or 4 sets of missionaries. I always love visiting the church services and getting to talk to the locals and visit with the missionaries. It just makes my heart really happy. Thankfully for us, they had a translator in the ward - that was a first! It was fabulous to know what they were saying. 

We left after sacrament and found the metro. We didn't have many plans for the day so, we just headed back towards the city and then wandered through the city. How fantastic is this building!? Love the red and white, striped window trim. 

We came across this building & while I have no clue what it is - it sure is beautiful! 

Then...we walked around a corner and saw this castle! Holy moly, these views made my heart skip beats! They were breath-taking. Add in the guy playing the guitar and the moment couldn't have been more perfect. I could have sat there for the rest of the day. 

We ended up back by Piazza Navona and on the way we found our new car...and the CUTEST old lady playing the accordion. She was smiling and dancing along as she was playing. Just the cutest. I wish I had gotten a video. I usually don't give money to these guys but, I couldn't help it. She got some spare Jami change. 

While we were in Piazza Navona, our goal was to find Brad an original painting that "spoke to him". We looked up and down the rows of artwork, until we came upon one that was perfect for him. The man who was selling them was the artist and we sat and chatted with him for about 20 minutes. That was another moment that just made me happy. I love the connection we get with people, when we travel. 

Here is Brad with the artist of his artwork: 

After we paid for his painting, we stopped to watch some street act (I think he was a comedian/dancer?). We had been standing there for a couple minutes, surrounded by a lot of humans, when Brad and I both got a very unsettled feeling. We looked at each other a said "We need to get out of here!" When we took a step back, we noticed a couple really sketchy guys wandering through the crowd attempting to pick-pocket the audience as the comedian/dancer distracted them. Gives me the heebie-jeebies and totally reaffirms that those guys work in teams to rob innocent bystanders! Eek! So scary. 

Okay, after we escaped our near-robbing experience, we headed to a bead store that I wanted to check out. I ended up getting some beads to make my own necklaces. This man was very knowledgable and made his own beads right in his shop! 

After I got my beads and we walked around for awhile & I was trying to decide was sort of souvenir I wanted. I decided I wanted to genuine Italian leather wallet. Even after tons of stores, I couldn't find one that I loved...except for a store on the opposite side of the shopping district from where we were. So, my fabulous husband practically ran across town with me to go check out that store (before they closed) and get myself an authentic leather wallet. And I love it. It makes me think of Rome every time I use it! 

After shopping and dinner, Brad wanted his last memories of Rome to be of the ancient Roman ruins so we rode the metro back towards Palatine Hill & the Colosseum. It was so beautiful lit up at night like this! 

Ha! Just Brad posing like a half naked god...

Buona notte, Roma!!