Saturday, June 16, 2007

The Homestretch in Paris!

Wow! It feels good to be in our final hotel. I am going to be so happy to get home and not live out of a suitcase! I'm also getting kind of tired of the three pair of pants I have with me.

We took a train ride to Paris yesterday morning. It was all right, except the guy next to me had to assault the ears of everyone on the train with his Ipod. Seriously, he must be deaf. If he were listening to English music, I could have made out the words to every song. He was listening to some kind of dance remixes, and it was really annoying after about 3 hours.

We arrived in Paris, found our hotel, and checked in. We then left to explore! Rose decided she wanted to go to the Eiffel Tower first, so that is what we did. I swear, I think she is addicted to the Eiffel Tower. When we reached the metro stop, she practically ran up the stairs, frantically trying to find it. I don't think she even noticed the threatening thunder clouds looming above. Anyway, we quickly found the tower, and she started snapping away. She happily suggested that we walk towards it (away from shelter). Against my better judgement, I agreed, and we started walking through the park. After about two minutes, the sky fell. We sought the shelter of a big tree for a few minutes. After that ran out, we ran toward a covered merry-go-round. That kept us from getting more wet, but since we were already soaked, it wasn't that much help. Eventually, the sun came out. We were freezing. Rose, in all of her excitement to be in Paris, said "Now, the question is, do we go back to the hotel and change, or go to the arc de triumph?" I gave her a look, and she said, "ok, maybe that's not a question." I gave in, though, and we walked to the Arc D'Truimph, soaking wet and all. We were wearing jeans, which didn't help. Oh well. We were in Paris! There was no way I was going to get Roes back to the hotel.

So, we walked and walked to the Arc. I was wondering why we bought metro passes, since Rose kept walking past metro stops. Anyway, after a long while, we reached the Arc. Since we have museum/monument passes, we were able to climb to the top without paying. I was happy about that, until Rose figured out that we could have unlimited visits to all of the museums and monuments. We actually climbed the Arc D'Truimph TWICE in our first half-day in Paris. haha

We visited Versailles today, which was pretty fun. We did a lot of walking, which Rose already told you about. Now, she is waiting for me to finish blogging. I think she wants to go back to the Eiffel tower. It is raining though. I may just send her by herself. :)

Tomorrow we are going to do what I am most looking forward to in Paris. We are going to a Gregorian Chant Mass at Notre Dame! Yeah!

OH, Aunt Patty, if you are reading, we have been thinking of you! There is a restaurant by our metro stop called the Hippopotamus Restaurant. Every time we walk by, I can hear your voice in my head singing the Hippo song. I usually join in, much to Rose's dismay.

We are having a good time in Paris! More later...

MUA A A A!!!!

I, and my infinate genius, have figured out how to make the keyboard AMERICAN STYLE!!!!!!! YES! so now, with a small amount of manipulation, which everyone seams to think i am good at, we can type freely for the first time since we left home! And, it will be easier for you to read our posts! I am just kidding about that genius business...

Today we went to the Chateu de Versailes (spelling) you know what i mean...its a huge palace! But actually, i was a bit disapointed in it. the palace we visited in Vienna was more impressive i think. that may be because it was cold and a bit rainy when we were walking through the gardens today. Correction, we were not walking through the gardens, we were walking around the gardens, because it was 6 or 7 extra Euro to go THROUGH the gardens, and they weren't that amazing. But, we had a good morning walk. It did not rain too hard, so that is good. I was a bit underdressed. the weather said it would be almost 70...i was freezing. Later on though, the sun came out and warmed us up a lot. But it keeps going back and forth between cold and warm, rainy and dry...i never thought i would hear myself say this, but i will be glad to get back to the stable weather of tennessee. (its all relative you know)

we had a great lunch though! on the way back to the city we stopped at a small cafe. i had a chicken and cheese crepe for lunch, and a chocolate crepe for desert. katie had a kind of pizza thing, on bread, was pretty good. she had a chocolate crepe too. she will be SO excited to find out i fixed the french keyboard! since there is only one computer here, she is up in the room, probably fallen asleep waiting on me to finish.

we had a pretty late night last night, i was posting blog and pictures and when i went up to the room, she was in bed! i think it was about 1am our time. i was going to let her do the blogging tonight, but i am having so much fun remembering how to type i just can't stop myself!

once back in paris we hit a department store, katie had some things she wanted to get from Paris, so i watched. Paris seams less expensive than Luzern, but since i am a poor jobless college student, everything is expensive to me. i have seen nothing "walmart" quality. everything here is name brand. crazy.

we learned that there are 8 Starbucks in Paris...we have not seen any yet. I think we should make it a conest, whoever spots the first one gets a free coffee! (the other of us pays for it) We are realy not that addicted to Starbucks, it is just something familiar to us. I do not even like hot coffee, except Starbucks Caramel MAchiatos are pretty good. KAtie has not had a single coffee she liked here in Europe. She has to water or milk it down a lot...and they come very small. so she is glad when we find a starbucks where she knows she can get the kind of coffee she likes. And there reallys is more insentive to get coffee when it is cold and rainy like it has been here.

i think i am rambling now, sorry. I will go up and tell katie the good news and see if she wants to blog.


Friday, June 15, 2007

after rain

when we left the hotel, it was hot and sunny; i wished i had changed to my chacos and shorts. then it rained and was cooooold! and it has been switching inbetween ever since.

Traffic in Paris from top of Arc De Triumph

I love Paris!!!

so, this keyboard is very different than what we have been using, so be patient as you discypher these last messages from Paris!

we started the day off with 5 hour train ride to Paris. this was the first train katie and i were not sitting next to eachother. there was a guy across the aisle from us who insisted on sharing the music from his iPod with the rest of the train car. It was soooo loud! Kaite was losing paitence...Finally we arrived in Paris and made our way to our hotel. The next thing we know we are heading back to the Metro, to see the Eiffel Tower, and the Arc De Triuph. I have been to Paris before; so I am showing Katie around the city...;)

As soon as we got within sight of the Amazing Eiffel Tower it started to rain; we thought it would clear up soon...oops! sooner than later, we were seeking more shelter than the tree we were under earlier. A man told us there was shelter at a nearby playground; so i ran as fast as i could....dogding puddles and other unfortunate wet people. Before reaching the playground kaite and i were pretty much completely not worry though, my camera case proved to be waterproof (thanks Chris), so i will be able to continue my photographic frenzy!

The rain cleared up in a few minutes, so we continued our sightseeing in wet clothing. We visited the Arc De Triumph and climbed to the top. Kaite and i have what is called a paris pass; which means we can see and climb everything in paris for free and without waiting in any lines (excluding the eifell tower for some reason)...its pretty cool. so we have actually climbed the Arc De Triumph twice today already. Once to see the E: Tower in the daylight, and once to see the E Tower at night. IT is as amazing as i remember it Dad. The Arc De Triumph, by the way, is the largest triuphful arc in the world, modeled after roman arches, it was begun in 1806 and finished 30 years later because of power/control changes which delayed the construction. anyway; you can see all of paris from the top. it is in the center of a round a bout....this particular one is known as "vehicular roulette" because it can be up to 5 lanes; and no lines or rules as i could tell. there are underground passages to get to the arch because trying to cross the round a bout is certain to end in our guidebook says.

we were able to see the E Tower twinkle was just as beautiful as i remembered it. Katie wondered what was wrong with me when i started running and yelling; "its already twinkling!!!" she got the idea after she came in sight though.

it is free internet; but i do not want to hog it so i will post some pics and be off.



FREE INTERNET QT OUR HOTEL§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§ only one you can see, these are completely different keyboards than zhat we have become fairly adapted too using...oops.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

One more thing!

The water is so clean! We were completely drenched in river\lake water, and when we dried off we did not feel sticky, or gross at all. Even my hair felt clean, maybe even softer than after I washed it! Our tour guide in Austria said the water is drinkable, it is so clean. The blue green color comes from the limestone in the mountains. We got to "drink" a little of it on our rafting trip! We will work on getting those pictures up next time, we have to download them off the internet first...

Water Falls!

Today, relaxing by Lake Luzern

The Duck must have been hungry..yes, it ate my toe!

I couldn't resist...I don't if you are allowed to get in...but I had too! IT was a bit warmer than the water we rafted in...

The View on the way to Interlocken

Yes, we had to wear wet suits...they made things safer, and warmer!

Our guide, Johnny

Its the latest fashion...

Last day in Switzerland

Well, as you have read from Rose's post, we had a good time rafting yesterday. The train ride to Interlaken was great. We had a panoramic train (although we really couldn't tell the difference between that and the normal trains). The views were gorgeous! We travelled past about 5 different lakes, all surrounded by mountains. The mountain views were beautiful as well. There were countless waterfalls coming out of the rock and falling who knows how many feet down the sides of the mountains. I think these mountains would be very difficult to climb. There is so much rock. There is ice also. We could have gone on a trip to learn how to climb ice, but we passed on that. I really would have enjoyed canyoning, but it was really expensive.

Basically, all we can afford to do here is look. haha that is fun, though, since the scenery is breathtaking in every direction.

Speaking of expensive, I did a load of laundry here a couple days ago. You would never guess how much it cost...15 dollars! Granted, that included washing, drying, AND detergent, but still. And, the load was tiny. It would have been half a load in the US. When the lady said it was 15 dollars, I hesitated and took a deep breath. The deep breath confirmed that the laundry was necessary, so I went ahead with it. I am fully enjoying and appreciating my clean clothes today.

We have only eaten one real meal in Switzerland, and that was the fondue. We've been going to the grocery store and buying apples, oranges, pre-packaged sandwiches, etc. for lunch and dinner. We have peanut butter and crackers for breakfast. All along, we had been planning on eating a meal at McDonald's here, since we knew Switzerland was expensive. We thought it would be the appropriate time to get a cheap fast food dinner. We walked in a lunch, and guess what? Even Mcdonald's is ridiculous! Their chicken ceasar salad is about 8 dollars. Crazy. So, we went back to the grocery store and ate another apple. We can get those for about 50 cents. haha

Today we went for a walk along the shore of the lake. It was nice and relaxing. We sat and dangled our feet near the water for a while. Some ducks swam up, expecing us to give them some food. We didn't have any, and even if we did we wouldn't waste precious food on them, so they proceeded to eat our toes! Don't worry, they don't have teeth. :)

Tomorrow morning we are taking the train to our last city...Paris! We are looking forward to that. We are completely rested. Luzerne is a pretty, quiet town. (emphasis on the quiet). The night before last, we were in and in bed at 8:30! We didn't have anything to do, so we just talked about how there was nothing to do and went to sleep early. I'm sure we won't have that problem in Paris.

We are going to have six nights in Paris. One day will be spent going to Normandy, and one day will be spent in Versailles. The other days will be in Paris. We look forward to telling you all about that!

Have a great week,

The Day After...

Well, White Water Rafting in the Swiss Alps was just as gorgeous as you would expect! It was so beautiful, though the water was not green. It was grey, that might have been because of the airbubbles flowing through it. Our Raft Guide, Johnny, said the water we were rafting in was 2 hours from glaciers..meaning, two hours before we got IN, it was flowing through the glaciers on top ofthe mountains...this means, the water was about 3 degrees Celcius...more math for you to do to figure out how cold that is in Fahrenhite (Katie told me how to spell if its wrong its her fault) ! It was cold! In about, 25 seconds after we got our raft in, and all 8 of us in the raft, we were heading down the river. Our guide told us what the mountains and rivers around us were called, and a few facts. It was fantastic. We had a couple times of relaxing durring "flat water." We were in a raft with a couple from New York, two school girlfriends from New York, and a couple girls from Mexico. Our guide was from New Zealand, as were most of the other guides and staff for the rafting company. It turns out thez are in Swizterland fro 6 months, then go to Australia and New Zealand for 6 months...working the summers. Our guide said he never sees winter. WHAT A GREAT JOB! If we had one more day of free travel on our Eurail pass, we would be back there today..mazbe canyoning (rafting without rafts basically. Thez take you through waterfalls and natural water slides, with knee and elbow pads, and helmets...) or maybe paragliding..) it all would be amazing. We should have gotten a hotel in Interlocken, which is where all the extreme sports are...instead of Luzern. Though, Luzern is beautiful and a cute little town, it the wildest thing you can do here is paddle boat...and that costs 15 Franks for 30 mins...O well. We are happy and enjoying the fresh air and lakes.
My back is a little sore from the paddling, a few times we tried to pass the other rafts..we got past all but one. Comeing from Last place, thats not too bad. (we had to bring up the rear in a few cases, incase anyone needed to be rescued in dangerous water)

TONY WALLEN! I keep forgetting to tell you, there is a word here that you need to know about. it is "Schmuck!" would you believe it is actually a word?!?!? it means, jewlery. yep, every time i see the word, i say it and think of how much fun you would have with this German language...we should have taken it in highschool together, it would have been hilarious! probably more fun than us talking in "amercian\mexican" accents...or, "Thats a watta wunch...not a watta wonch" (for all of you who are totally lost by this paragraph, it is just an inside "joke" between me and my brother...)

So, i here there are a lot of you raising money for us to blog while we are here in expensive land...aka: Switzerland. Keep it commin! We leave tomorrow though, so we will hopefullz find affordable internet in Paris...

Did you know Switzerland has three official languages?? French, German and Itallian...soooo confusing! I keep forgetting where i am...then i look at a price tag in a shop winow, and i remember.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Well, it has been a while since I have posted...

If anyone does not know, I am the trip photographer, except when i give Katie STRICT directions and let her take a picture of just kidding. Any way, you have seen only a sampling of the hundreds and hundreds...

wow...katie just asked me how to spell a word...that has never in my life happened! maybe she is tired...

back to my story about pictures. I have 12 cds with roughly 160 potos on each do the math. I am not sure if all the pictures are good, but they are documenting this incredible experience we are having. I am having to empty my memory cards onto cds at internet cafes when I can. it is a little frusterating not knowing what pictures on on what cd. I finallz found and bought a marker here in switzerland, to lable the cds and ease my stress. but alas, the marker does not write on the cds, so I am not only missing and arm and a leg, but I still have 12cd's worth of confusion plaguing my dreams. I just thought I would share a little of what is going on in mz life, outside of photographing God's beautiful creation!

And, since I am on this note of spilling my guts, do not ask someone in Germany to make you a shake...just ask for four scoops of icecream and a cup of milk. Mix it lightly yourself, unless you want it the consistancy of thinned water. This is what happend to me in Germanz, at Haagen Daz. It did not make me very happy. I drank a shake that cost four times as much as Katie's once scoop of icream, in a fourth of the time it took her to eat that one scoop.

I do not know what else to say. Katie has pretty much filled you in on our stay so far. i will comment on the fondue dinner we had. the chocolate was SOOOOOOOOOOO good!

And tomorrow we are going white water rafting, on the wildest trip they have! Bring it on! it is the same distance as the other trips, but in a 3 and half hours we will cover as much river as the 5 and half hour trip...yikes! I hope we will be able to post about it afterwords! ;)

Our Dinner of Fondu!

enjoying the ride!

more views from boat ride

views from our boat ride yesterday!


We are in the beautiful, expensive country of Switzerland! Yes, it is quite expensive. We are an an Internet cafe in the train station (the cheapest) and it is 8 swiss franc's per hour. That is about 7 dollars, I think. Anwyway, I told Mom the other day that we weren`t going to blog until we get to Paris because it is so expensive here, and we have spent all of our money on food. (that's only half a joke). She really wanted to hear from us, so she said she would pay us 7 dollars (there is no dollar sign on this entire keyboard!!!) to post. That gave us a great idea!!! We are hereby setting up a "Rose and Katie Internet Cafe" fund. Contributions can be made through Lynn Wallen and are not tax deductible. haha

Well, we arrived in rainy Lucerne yesterday at around noon. We did not have directions to our hotel, so we just started walking and found it withing 10 minutes! I know you are shocked to hear it, but we are getting pretty good at finding our way around Europe. We knew the hotel was 500 meters away from the train station, so we figured we'd come to it eventually...and we did.

Our hotel is pretty nice. It is right in the center of the old town, which is convenient. We started walking around after checking in, to see what there was to do in town. there ins't much, unless you have a lot of shopping money!!! We wondered and wondered, and then decided to try to find an Internet cafe. That was a disaster. There just aren't any here. there is this one at the train station, and we ended up finding another later that is 10 francs per hour. It is almost as bad as Venice! The only problem is that we will be here four nights, and we were only in Venice for one. Anyway, now that we have the katie and rose internet cafe fund, it's not a problem.

The one thing we really wanted to do in Switzerland was go white water rafting. When we arrived, the lady at the tourist office said that it had been raining too much and was too dangerous for at least two days. So, we just took a brochure and decided to call ourselves. After figuring out the phone cards here (that's another story we'll save for another day), we called the rafting company ourselves and scheduled a rafting trip for tomorrow (Wednesday)!!!!! We are very excited. The trip is about two hours away, so right after we booked the trip, we went to the ticket office at the train station to make reservations to get to Interlaken.

Now, we are traveling throughout Europe on a eurail pass, which allows us to travel without purchasing tickets. We purchased a pass that is good for 10 days of travel in any of five countries. We can make reservations, which guarantees us a seat on the train, or we can just show up and get on a train. We can take as many trips we want on the days that we travel.

When we were at the station making reservations to Interlaken, I was trying to decide if we should use one of our 10 days for this trip, or if we should use it to take a boat trip across the lake in Lucerne, since the boats are considered part of the rail system. We decided to use it for Interlaken, because the tickets would have been expensive. It was at that moment that Rose had a great idea, qualifying her for the grand prize for the "best idea of the day" award. She suggested that we get on the boat yesterday, since it was considered a travel day and our rail pass was valid the entire day! So, we rushed over to the docks, just in time to get on the 6:12 boat that goes all around lake Lucerne.

We had a beautiful 2 hour trip around the lake, with gorgeous views of the mountains that surround the lake and the villages that are located on the shores. We made a few quick stops, but mostly just sailed around the lake. It was a wonderfully relaxing way to end the day.

But, it gets better! After we returned to the dock at about 8:15, we decided to have fondue for dinner. Mmmmmm. That was really good. I think Rose is posting pictures. We had four courses, salad, cheese, meat, and of course, chocolate. The salad was really good. We were totally starving by then, so we ate the entire salad. Next was the cheese course. It was a gruyere cheese, with bread and potatos to dip. Mmmmm. We ate about all of that also. Then we had the meat. You cook the meet (beef and chicken) in a little bot of boiling broth. The broth was a beef broth, I think, with celery, carrots, and some kind of noodle in it. Mmmmm. That was good too. We didn't quite finish the soup, but we ate all of the chicken and almost all of the beef.

The best was last, of course...chocolate! We had milk chocolate with hazlenuts in it. To dip, we had apples, pears, bananas, strawberries, and more bread. The bread was a little weird, since it was regular bread, not sweet bread, but it was good. Of course, we (or I should say Rose) finished off the chocolage as well. All of that, and we still managed to drink an entire pitcher of ice tea!!! Mmmm. we are not officially broke and officially not any lighter than when we left Tennessee. ha

After that, we went to bed and slept very well. We slept in this morning, since we don't have much to do today. We are mainly resting and regrouping. We went bathing suit shopping this morning (let me tell you, that was lots of fun after fondue) since neither of us brought ours (dumb). We then bought some fruit and a sandwich for lunch, and came here to post. This afternoon, we are going to walk a lot, do some laundry, and not have dinner. :) We have sworn off ice cream for the rest of the trip!!!

That's all for now!!! We will probably not post tomorrow, since we are going to be rafting all day, but we'll post again on Thursday.

Have a great week! And be thankful every day for American keyboards. I'm going to have to relearn typing when we get home.


Sunday, June 10, 2007

This guy was amazing! He played the most beautiful music!

This is the Olympic park..that took us SO long to get to...we got wise on the way back, and took the underground.

Our lunch in Germany!

The sporting festival..or something!

I got to play a little soccer, when they kicked the ball over the net and it headed for me and mz camera! but, it was not a good plaĆ½, cause i used my hand...;)

Another train ride...we are getting the hang of this thing!

now i have a friend in Salzburg, and Igor has another friend in the US...nice artist man.

Our Icecream Delights!

Our Day in Munich

We were sad to leave Salzburg yesterday. After we posted our pictures, we walked through Mirabell Gardens, which is where a lot of the scenes from the Sound of Music were filmed. Rose is going to post our two Do Re Mi poses. I´m sure you are all looking forward to those! We didn´t put on our curtain outfits, since it was a little warm, but you get the picture.

After the garden, we savored every last minute with ice cream. (I know you are all shocked to hear that). We walked into our favorite little ice cream shop and ordered more than our usual 3 scoops. I had a tiramasu creation, and rose had a kiwi concoction. Both were delicious...much more delicious than the haggen-doss we had today in Germany.

Then, we walked to a square where a guy we met the day before was selling his artwork. Rose bought a painting for her collection, and then we slowly made our way to the train station. The trip to Munich was uneventful. We found our hotel (we are getting pretty good at that), checked in, and went out to look for dinner.

Mmmmmmm...dinner in Germany. It was late, and we didn´t want to search for a restaurant, so we just asked the guy at the hotel reception where he recommended for a good German dinner. He sent us to a beirgarten for some traditional Bavarian food. We were starving! It is a good thing, because when we arrived and sat down, we soon figured out that they don´t have English menus. Not only that, but the menus that they had were in a Bavarian dialect, so I couldn´t even figure it out with my dictionary! We were confused. The waitress didn´t speak English, and was a tough German woman, so we were a little afraid. However, we were more hungry than intimidated. She said that they had beef, pork, chicken and noodles. Hmmmm. We figured out that there was a vegetarian dish, so Rose ordered that. She was afraid that if she ordered anything else she might end up with sausage. I, on the other hand, wanted sausage. So, I looked for something with "brat" and ordered that.

We were pleasantly surprised when our food arrived. Rose had a delicious dish which consisted of homemade noodles, wild mushrooms, and a pesto type sauce. It was awesome! I had two huge sausages, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, and freshly grated horseradish. Wow! I felt German. :) We both enjoyed our food immensely, but definitely feel heavier today.

This morning, we slept in until 8:00, had breakfast at the hotel, and then went out to explore Munich. I´ll take this moment to say we are a little tired of hotel-provided breakfasts. The standard breakfast here is bread with butter, jams, honey, etc. That´s all! WE finally had some yogurt this morning, which was very welcome. We have had so many carbs.

We were a little disappointed to find out that absolutely everything in Munich is closed on Sundays! I don´t even think we realized it was Sunday until we walked around and everything was closed. It was all right, though. There wasn´t much we were interested in seeing here, we just wanted to walk around the city for the day. It is a good thing, because that is what we did! We walked downtown, looked at one church, and then explored the parks and streets. There was some kind of soccer thing going on, so we watched that for a while. It was nice, we needed a good walk after last night´s dinner. We finished at about noon though, and wondered what to do for the rest of the day.

We decided to take a walk to the Olympic park, which is out of town, but within walking distance...or so we thought. We walked for two hours to get there! We finally found it, and searched for the memorial to the bombing victims. It was a little strange, because we asked a security guard, and he had no idea what we were talking about. He said "what memorial_" I said to the bombing victims, and he had no idea what bombing I was talking about or that there was a memorial. Oh well. We eventually found it. We then decided to take public transportation back into the city. We did stop for lunch on our way to the park, and it was delicious. Rose had a half of a roasted chicken and some vegetables. I had some grilled turkey, roasted potatoes, and a salad. It was another delicious meal. WE are now blogging and will then try to find dinner. Tomorrow we leave for four days in Switzerland! Our time in Germany was short, but we just wanted a little taste, so we got one (literally).

I think Rose is posting some more pictures. WE hope you enjoy!

Here are our Sound of Music poses!