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Like everyone else with too much free time on their hands, I too have a web log (or blog for short).  Entries are listed newest to oldest but only the latest 10 are displayed initially.  If you want to view more entries, modify the ordering or sorting, etc, just use the sub-navigation or table pagination links to get your desired result.  Just note that the older the blog entry, the higher the chances are that the links contained within it are no longer working.
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My European vacation (abridged version)
Posted Thursday, September 10th 2009 @ 07:36 pm

~ a few years old / 3302 days ago


I'm back from my 18 days in Europe (London, Paris, Vatican, Rome, Florence, Pisa, Venice).  Needed a few days to burn off the jet lag.  Unfortunately, I had to drop Amsterdam and Brussels from the trip as I spent extra days in Rome, Florence, and Venice.  I still need to hypertext my diary from the trip so I'll post those later.  I've uploaded all the photos and they can be reviewed in 1 large chunk or by day below (highlights are listed):

  • Day 1 - Chicago; Traveling
  • Day 2 - London; Millennium Eye, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey (outside), Trafalgar Square, Tower of London (night), Thames Bridge (night)
  • Day 3 - Paris; Eiffel Tower, Avenue des Champs-Élysées,Arc de Triomphe
  • Day 4 - Paris; the Louvre (Mona Lisa, Winged Victory, Aphrodite of Milos aka Venus de Milo, Rembrandt's self portrait, Ruben's Room, etc.)
  • Day 5 - Paris; Point zero, Notre Dame Cathedral, Crypte Archeological
  • Day 6 - Vatican / Rome; St. Peter's Papal Basilica (Michelangelo's first 'Pieta'), Colosseum, Piazza Venezia, Trevi Fountain (night), Spanish Steps (night)
  • Day 7 - Rome; Monte Palatino, Roman Forums, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain (day), National Roman museum
  • Day 8 - Rome; Santa Maria della Vittoria (Bernini's 'Ecstasy of St. Teresa'), Santa Maria in Cosmedin (La Bocca della Verita), San Nicola in Carcere, Vatican Museum (Raphael Rooms, Sistine Chapel (Michelangelo's ceiling and 'The Last Judgment' wall)) , Santa Mario della Popolo (Caravaggio's 'The Conversion of St. Paul'), Santa Maria Maggiore (resting place of Bernini)
  • Day 9 - Florence; Santa Maria Novelle (Masaccio's 'Trinitia'), Duomo, Baptistery (Gates of Paradise), campanile
  • Day 10 - Florence / Pisa; Mercado Centrale, Galleria dell'Accademia (Michelanglo's 'David'), Field of Miracles, Leaning Tower, Baptistery
  • Day 11 - Florence; Santa Croce (resting place of Michelangelo, Galileo, Rossini, Marconi, Machiavelli, Foscolo, Gentile), Ponte Vecchio (the 'jewelry district'), Piazza della Signoia, Museo dell'Opera del Duomo (Michelangelo's last unfinished 'Pieta', Donatello's 'Magadelene')
  • Day 12 - Venice; St. Mark's Piazza, St. Mark's, campanile, Vivaldi Tribute concert
  • Day 13 - Venice; Grand canal, ships/docks named 'Marta', Vivaldi Four Seasons concert, bought a painting
  • Day 14 - London; Buckingham Palace, changing of the guard, Wicked musical
  • Day 15 - London; Windsor Castle, We Will Rock You musical
  • Day 16 - London; Tower of London Beefeater tour, the Crown Jewels, White Tower (King Henry VIII 'Dressed to kill' exhibit), Billy Elliot musical
  • Day 17 - London; Harrods's, Westminster Abbey (resting place of Newton, Darwin, and Florence Nightingale), British Museum (Rosetta Stone), Cartoon Museum, St. Paul's Cathedral, Gaucho's Grill, The 39 steps 4-man comedic movie reenactment
  • Day 18 - Traveling

There are a couple of things that totally stick out in my mind from the trip:

  • No lines; 10-15 minutes for everything; exceptions = Eiffel tower ~an hour
  • The exchange rate sort of sucks (~1.6 pound / ~1.5 euro) but may be why tourism is so low
  • Europeans do bathe (and smell quite nice)
  • Europeans do not eat crepes for breakfast; it's more of a lunch/dinner thing for them
  • Parisian breakfast = baguette of bread + coffee
  • Nutella (hazelnuts/chocolate) is Europe's version (imho) of peanut butter.
  • Stairs...get used to them!
  • The 'Smoking French' stereotype is totally true; if they're not underage or pregnant, they smoke (*cough*).
  • London ranks #2 in my book for the highest percentage of smokers (*cough*)
  • Parisians are not rude
  • Paris tourists are rude
  • Tourists (especially me after a 100 degree, high humidity day battling other tourist for line positioning), do smell
  • Never ask a Parisian 'Do you speak English'; they will always say no...this line seems to be the standard gypsy scam hook.
  • 1 meat, 1 cheese on a sandwich; never 2 (nor lettuce or any seasonings)
  • Farmer markets and street faires are your best friends
  • The subways in London and Paris are great
  • The sheer concentration of McDonald's resturants here is lewd....even within 100 feet of each other
  • No sit down tables in fast food joints; more like a 'community bar' if you will
  • No one drinks tap water....if you ask for water, they'll ask 'gas (carbonated) or no gas (natural)'; it's always bottled.
  • Rome has running water spigots all over town (free water!)
  • Europe is dominated by Coke, Diet Coke, Sprint, Fanta Orange, and Power-Aid
  • No Dr. Pepper or Pepsi products (except London and even there it's hard to find at times).
  • No soda fountains = no refills; everything is cans or bottles.
  • No 7-Eleven's (or anything like it) :-(
  • You have to pay extra to eat at a table anywhere (hence the reason they consistently ask "for here or to go?")
  • Food portions are 1/3 of what we get in the states yet costs twice as much
  • American Italian food kicks Italian Italian food hands down (I had various plates from various shops...what's with the 'mac-n-cheese' colored sauce on everything?).
  • European Minestrone soup does not contain beans or pasta like good old Americanized Minestrone
  • Venice is really not that big nor is it really that quaint (maybe I should of taken a $150 gondola ride for the narrow paths).
  • Wi-Fi is available everywhere....just never for free.
  • San Diegians summer in Europe (I ran into 8 groups of Americans; 6 from San Diego, 1 from San Jose, 1 from New Jersey)
  • The Colosseum isn't as big as I thought it would be
  • Cobbled stone roads are hard to walk on for long distances
  • Italy is the ice cream (gelato) capitol of the world; almost every shop has a ice cream freezer set up

There were still a number of things that I want to see so I'll definitively will go back but next time I really want to bring the family along with me (I suck at buying jewelry for my wife).


9 yrs, 2 wks, 3 days, 40 mins and 38 secs ago

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