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!! 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Rome: Day 2

On Saturday, we got up and ate our delicious complimentary breakfast...(okay, actually, it was kinda a whole lot of carbs, nasty juice and some weirdly flavored Italian yogurt. Needless to say, we were hungry every morning)...

We started off with a walk up the hill by our hotel. We stumbled across this monument of some sort and Brad wanted to get a better look so, he hopped the fence and went in! Wellll....apparently he wasn't supposed to. See those guys on the right of the picture? They're chewing Brad out, in Italian. Hilarious. 

After enjoying the monument from the correct side of the candy-stripped tape, we kept wandering up the hill & seriously -- the views from our spot were breathtaking. Buon Giorno, Rome! 

We ended up walking along a skinny, one lane, road (with traffic going both ways) where the cars were literally a foot away from us, flying past, all while sharing the road with pedestrians & bikers. It was insanity! I did decide I could live on this road though...the houses were incredible (although, they were all blocked by huge cast iron gates...) 

Except, I don't think I would want to be their neighbors. Cah-reeeepy! 

Italians are notorious for their wild parking. I always wonder how the inside cars get out, if they're blocked in...? Life long puzzlement. This was just one side of the street. They leave a small narrow space in the middle of the street for cars who are actually driving. 

Finally! We made it to Saint Peter's Basilica. 

Did you know? If you stand on this circle in the middle of the square - it gives the optical illusion that all the columns are lined up perfectly straight!? Neato, right? 

Next, we hiked up the stairs to the top of the dome.

This guy was sitting so patiently at the top, just asking to have his picture taken! 

There were oodles and oodles of people up on top so we didn't stay too long before we headed back down and into the church. 
We tend to spend a lot of time...looking UP...while we're in these churches. The ceilings are just so incredibly beautiful! 

{okay...this one was down! such fun tiles!}

Rumor has it that St. Peter's tomb is directly below this memorial. Like, THE St. Peter. That's pretty fascinating! 

St. Peter's is also home to Pieta. It is a Renaissance statue carved by Michelangelo depicting Christ laying across his Mother, Mary's, lap after the crucifixion. Despite the hundreds of people, in the church, you can easily feel a sense of spiritual peace.  

If you rub the foot of St. Peter you'll be granted good luck! Umm, yes please!! 

After seeing all we could see, we headed back out side to get one last look at the cute Swiss guards & to send Kason a postcard from the Post Office. The Vatican City is quite unique, in the fact that they are their own little city-state, right in the middle of Rome. They have their own post office, mint their own euros, print their own postage stamps, and they even have their own flag and anthem! Crazy to think they do all of that within their 2-mile city. 

Then we headed over to the Museum! Fun Fact: there used to be secret passageways that you could take from the Basilica to the Museums but, they're not longer accessible to civilians. Lame. 

Because I had been to the museums before, I hardly took any pictures...
But, I did love these floor tiles. 

And how this statue looked like she was taking a 'selfie' ...

And how, in this wall-painting, if you looked at it straight on, you couldn't see the face, but if you look at if from a side angle, you could totally see the hidden face. Can you see the face? 

And of course the ever-famous spiral staircase. It's just so fun, I can't pass up a picture op!

We wandered across the street to have lunch at this super yummy, organic deli. They had the best bread!! They have smoothies, juices, salads and sandwiches. Highly recommend this little joint. Incredibly affordable, too!  

After finishing lunch, we made our way over to the Spanish Steps, got some more gelato (sadly, not GROM, I couldn't betray my ice cream love so, only Brad got some gelato this time...), and wandered the fancy-schmancy shopping streets. I love window shopping and realizing that people spend 2000-euro on a purse. Seriously? No thank you. It helps me feel very financially wise. Anyway! The Spanish Steps...

We wandered, and wandered, and wandered some more before we ended up, back on our side of the river for dinner. It was really nice to just meander through Rome with my love. I think I really loved this trip with him, even though Rome isn't my favorite big city. 

Dar Poeta was in our neck of the woods. The wait was insane. Like over an hour. But we were starving and it was supposed to be delish. So we waited. 

This is so typical of an Italian night: dimly lit cobblestone streets with graffitied walls, people wandering with gelato, mopeds parked off to the side and a little bit of cigarette smoke clouding the air. Strange perfection. 

Our pizza was alright. It was no where near as good as the pizza the night before & I don't know that it was worth the 60+ minute wait. But, it was food. And Italian pizza at that, so I couldn't complain. After dinner we grabbed some gelato and headed back to the hotel, passing some pot smokers on the way. Rome is fabulous.