And I was all like ‘Merica!!!!

September 2, 2013 · 20 comments

It’s about time. I finally was able to get our Europe pictures uploaded to my computer, which means you will be taking a walk down memory lane with me today. I’m no Rick Steve’s (look him up if you don’t know who he is), but I’ll do my best to give you my honest thoughts on each city we visited. Kick back, relax, and enjoy the ride….

The  Black Forest (Germany)…

I have no idea why the Black Forest is called the Black Forest. I was secretly hoping all of the trees would be black and the people would be emo/goth or something. Turns out, it’s just a popular tourist destination for other European’s to visit for the weekend. We stayed in a tiny Lodge on one of the lakes in the forest. German food isn’t my favorite, but we seemed to have alright luck finding good dishes. Worth spending a day or two in the Black Forest, but not much more. Oh, and we did get to see a freakin’ huge Cuckoo Clock which was pretty rad…


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Innsbruck, Austria…

Definitely a contender for my favorite city. The city center sits in the middle of the Austrian Alps and has an awesome skyline just about any way you look. We took the funicular up to the top of a mountain peak and had a sweet bird’s-eye view of the city. We had incredible gelato, a great meal, and walked the main drag. The locals were helpful and it didn’t feel too touristy….

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Venice, Italy…

I was totally underwhelmed by Venice. You always see the city in the movies and in picture and it looks stinking cute. While the canals were definitely charming, I was distracted by the pungent smell of garbage, the narrow alleys, the extreme humidity, and the pushy restaurant staff that basically beg you to come eat at their restaurant. I felt like I was walking the streets of Vegas. In fact, I probably like walking the canals inside the Venetian hotel in Vegas, more than walking the actual canals of Venice. I know August probably is like the worst month to be a tourist there, but I was a tourist in August in all of the other cities we visited. Venice was definitely my least favorite pit stop…

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Rome, Italy…

A big city for sure. Definitely my least favorite city to drive in (did I mention I learned how to drive stick during this vacation…haha). The lane lines aren’t so much guidelines as much as they are loose suggestions. It was insane being at a stop light of a three lane road, with five or six lanes of cars at it. Anywhere a car (or moped) can fit, someone will be driving there. Highlight of Rome was probably meandering the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain, eating incredible pastas and pizzas, and a ton of shopping and markets. Least favorite things; Vatican City group tour (was totally bored and it felt rushed), lack of solid air conditioning in most stores/restaurants, and some of the locals were kind of rude and/or standoffish….

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Barcelona, Spain…

Totally felt like I was in Miami the whole time. It’s definitely a city to visit for the younger party crowd. If I was a college kid who liked to drink until 5am, then this would be my city. Las Ramblas is the main drag and it’s a fun street to walk down. We experienced “Spain Time” which was really odd at first. The locals eat a big lunch at around 1 or 2pm, and then virtually everything closes until about 8pm. We spent most of our afternoons at the beach relaxing. We were bothered by the occasional beach vendor offering henna tattoos, hair braiding, cans of beer, etc, but it wasn’t too bad. We ate dinner at around 9:30pm each night, which was surprisingly a bit earlier than the locals. It wasn’t until about midnight that the city really came to life. The clubs stay open till 5am and when we caught an early morning shuttle at 4:30 one morning, you would have thought it was 6pm with how packed the streets were.

We visited La Sagrada Familia which is by far the coolest church I’ve ever been in. It was awesome. Loved the architectural detail and the open/airy feeling. I hated the Sistine Chapel because the art work was too busy for me with bright paintings and artwork taking up every square inch. La Sagrada Familia is the exact opposite. There is plenty of detail, but it isn’t so busy that it is hard to focus. It was arguably my favorite “tourist attraction” of our entire trip….

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Granada, Spain…

Loved Granada. We stayed in a super modern hotel really close to the city center. We spent a whole day at La Alhambra, which was probably my second favorite tourist attraction of the trip. It’s a huge moorish palace with all sorts of cool history. We had a Rick Steve’s travel book and gave ourselves a self guided tour. I think we were at the palace for a total of about 5 hours and easily could have stayed another 2 or 3. We also took part in an Arab Bath and Massage which was quite possibly the best decision I’ve ever made. For an hour and a half, Girl Ninja and I rotated between a really hot pool, a really cold pool, and a warm pool. It was incredible relaxing, and at about the half way point, we each got a 15 minute back and leg massage…

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Seville, Spain…

Our last stop of our two week journey. We spent two days in Seville and walked pretty much the whole city center. We visited a few of the major churches, drank some Starbucks (I know we’re terrible), visited the second oldest bull fighting ring in the world, and took pictures of lots of cute doors (haha). Seville had a ton of charm and a great ambiance. I even stepped out of my comfort zone and tried Ox Tail, which tasted kind of like braised beef…

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We were totally blessed to have spent two weeks seeing so many places. We were exhausted by the end of the trip, especially knowing we had a big move ahead of us, but we had the time of our life. I’m super pumped to be heading back to Germany and The Netherlands for six weeks this fall, for what will probably be my last Europe trip for the foreseeable future.

What countries have you visited? Anyone else that’s been to Venice agree it has a slight “Tijuana” feel to it?

1 T

You went to Rome and did not visit Cat Sanctuary (Torre Argentina)? That’s just crazy! Ha ha ha. :)
Why did you drive in Rome? When my hubby and I were there we walked everywhere. It’s much more compact that we could imagine. I was not crazy about Vatican Museum – we skipped pretty much all but Sistine Chapel, but St. Peters Basilica was fantastic, especially the trip and the views from the top of the cupola.

2 Allie

Aw, what a bummer about Venice. I’ve been wanting to go there for a long time! But it looks like an awesome trip. I’ve yet to get a chance to go to Europe, so a lot of these places are ones I’d like to visit!

3 Manks

My wife and I spent some time in Granada on our honeymoon last year. We loved it, too! The amount of detail in the streets was impressive, but nothing compared to La Alhambra. I still do not understand it. Sounds like we missed out by not trying out the Arab bath and massage, though.

4 Elizabeth

You guys are really cute – so glad we can finally see your faces! Thanks for sharing the recap and pics!

5 Brian

Looks like a great trip. Never been to Europe. We hope to plan a trip after we are debt free!

6 Brian

I love Innsbruck. It is one of our final 4 (or 5) cities that we are going to move to for 6 months to a year in the not so distant future. Of course it helps my old lady speaks fluent German, but you are right, the locals were really nice and even pointed us to some incredible places to eat.

We have a quick trip to Ireland coming up. We are going with some friends who have never been and we are also going to meet up with some of our Irish friends for some great craic!

7 Larry

I’ve been to most of your places and loved all of them – Venice and the Sistine Chapel included (but I went to Venice in October, so no smell). Haven’t been to Innsbruck or the Black Forest, but I have been to Vienna, Salzburg, Munich, and Berlin, and all the castles in southern Bavaria. The Alhambra is spectacular, so is Barcelona. I would start dinner in Spain at 8 in an empty restaurant that would just start filling at 10 when I left. How did you get around? all by car, or also plane or train? You covered quite a lot of ground in two weeks.

8 Ninja

We drove the first half of the trip, so from all of the cities until we got to Spain. We also spent a few hours in Florence, Genoa, and Toulan, but didn’t have much to say about them. It was a busy first week seeing so much. Then we spent a whole week in Spain and used a combo of plain/train/taxi to get around.

9 Larry

Oh. To answer your bottom question: What countries have you visited?

Canada, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama,
UK, France, Spain, Italy, Germany.
Belgium, Netherlands.
Switzerland, Austria, Czech Republic.
Sweden, Denmark, Finland.

Anyone else that’s been to Venice agree it has a slight “Tijuana” feel to it?
Can’t say, not having ever been to Tijuana.

10 Hannah

I really loved Venice but went in March so it was chilly coat weather. I still think it’s cool how you don’t see a single car, car honking, traffic lanes! Also the fact that it’s sinking.

I seriously think Paris, France is over-rated. Dirty, graffti and pick pockets.

We’re going to Prague, Czech Republic and Budapest, Hungary this coming weekend actually! Been researching for more relaxed historical places, I realized after my first trip to Europe that I prefer less hustle and bustle (like Rome & Paris).

11 Ryan

Wow I had the exact opposite reaction to Paris! I’m not a big city person at all but Paris really blew me away. Maybe I was just high on the “woah I’m in Paris” feeling haha?

12 Hannah

I know what you mean, I think my expectations we’re too high :( I thought I was going to have that same “Woah!” feeling, but I was more like “woahhh.” Still had a great trip though!

13 eemusings

Not a huge fan of German food either, but we got by. Where in the Black Forest did you stay? Looks not unlike the lodge we were at. Haha,I never really though about why it’s called that, either.

Loved Rome. And surprisingly, also really liked Venice! Damn hot, and touristy, but my expectations were really low, so was surprised by good food and lack of smell. We went right at the end of July (practically August) and didn’t find either the water or streets stinky at all.

Spain is still on the bucket list…

14 Ryan

Spain’s never been high on my priority list, but after hearing about the party scene, I need to check it out before I’m old like Ninja! ;) Drinks at 5AM? Awesome.

15 C The Writer

I’ve been nowhere but the U.S.

I’m lucky like that.

I’m sure you don’t care, but whatever.

16 Zade

Wow, you did a lot of cities

Been to:
Ghana
Togo
Nigeria
Cote D;Ivoire
Greece
Turkey
UK
Scotland (maybe that’s just part of UK)
Peru
Bolivia
Canada
USA

17 Denis M.

Looks like an overall fun trip! Can’t believe you hadn’t tried ox tail before! It’s a staple of hispanic foods; ox tail stew…love it!
New Orleans, Las Vegas, New York all have that “garbage steam” smell…so I can only imagine Venice. Not as romantic as most women believe it is, huh?

Countries I’ve been to:
Cuba
Nicaragua
Puerto Rico (i know, technically USA)
USVI (again, technically USA, but it really is far from it!)
Canada

Within the USA though, I’ve been to every major city with an NBA team (i work in sports) lol.

18 Kristen

Wow! That looks like an incredible trip! I am planning a similar trip for the months following my final student loan payment! :D That’s awesome that you were able to see so many wonderful places all in one trip!

19 Lisa E. @ Lisa Vs. The Loans

Looks like you had tons of fun!

20 Mary

Let’s see: France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, New Zealand, French Polynesia (all those lovely islands), Canada, St. Thomas, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Ireland, England, Mexico and Greece. Have visited several of these multiple times. My fave country is definitely France—love, love, love it–even Paris! Have never encountered the stereotypical “rude” French person. They’ve always been very nice to us–of course, we don’t expect them to speak English so that helps, I think. They usually take pity on our fractured French.
Just did Barcelona last June–I suggest taking the Fat Tire Bike Tour. Lots of fun and a good way to get a sense of direction in the city. They have a fun tour in Paris, too, and I liked that one better.

A couple things on our bucket list: take the river rafting trip in the Grand Canyon; go on an Alaskan cruise. I’m not a big cruise person, but everyone says that’s the way to go.

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