ROMA

Hanschen Klein's ColoseumWell dang-it, it happened. My true love for Italy was reunited. I said I wouldn’t return for a while, and then, inevitably,  I always go back to that beautiful romantic-beast of a country. But what’s even better, my truest of loves – fell in love with it too.

IMG_2943 Unfortunately, my love cannot be shared with the Italian airlines, AlItalia. This was the last time we saw our bags… until 5 days later. Yep, we’re going to have to have a little chat.Hanschen Klein's ROMAOn another note, if you find yourself with 48 hours in Rome and you’re overwhelmed with all of the options of things that you can do… I have a fool proof first-timers trip to Rome. You’ll hit the high points and you won’t feel like you missed out on anything too historically significant.

DAY 1 (Full Day): Wander the town — There are a few things that (in my opinion) you absolutely have to see – along with every other tourist. Let your first day be the day that gets you acquainted with the city. Must see’s: Fontana di Trevi (throw your coin into the fountain), the Pantheon (because, shame on you if you don’t!), the Colosseum (go in if you have time, but if not – do a pass by), while your over that way, check out the Arch of Constantine and walk through the Roman Forum (or pass by it and look through the gates), and eat some gelato near the Spanish Steps.  This would definitely be a full day and also a cheap day. The only things you would have to pay to see are the Colosseum and the Roman Forum — and that’s only if you choose to go in!

Hanschen Klein's Pantheon

The Pantheon

Hanschen Klein's PantheonDay 2: Tackle the Vatican — Whether you’re catholic or not, you should check out the Vatican City. Why, you might ask? Are you kidding… you know you want to see the Sistine Chapel by means of the Vatican Museum. Don’t lie to yourself – you do. Let me help you out here — BUY YOUR TICKETS IN ADVANCE. And that’s for every major museum in Europe. I had never been to Italy during the high tourist season, so I never knew how much of a necessity it really was to buy your tickets in advance. The typical wait time is between 1-2 hours. No joke. Maximize your time – buy in advance and skip the lines!!

HanschenKlein's Vatican Museum

Vatican Museum

HanschenKlein's The Vatican

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Interior Walls inside the Vatican

If you’re up for it, climb the stairs to the top of the inner dome and then take another set of stairs if you want to go all the way up and look over the entire city. It’s 5 Euro’s to take the stairs and 7 to take the elevator. Do it. But don’t if you are claustrophobic or afraid of heights. The walls do tend to curve and lean a little. It’s also one-way, so it’s difficult to go backwards once you start.

Hanschen Klein's Piazza NavonaAnd once you’ve exhausted yourself, get some vino and sit down at a nice restaurant at Piazza Navona.  And for all of you Dan Brown fan’s… this is the fountain where the bad guy attempts to drown the last cardinal. I love this city. Give yourself time to get lost and discover new things around you. Live it and Love it.

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Peace and Love Throughout the World

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Jetplane

Hanschen KleinYou know when you’re getting ready to go on vacation and the hours at work just seem to drag on and on… yep, that’s where I am right now. I have a whirl wind weekend coming up and then I have to come back to work and then midweek of next week, I’ll be on a jetplane… for Europe!!

We are taking a little vacation and going on a European Cruise. I’m so excited. The last cruise I went on was when I was teeny-tiny and it was a Disney Cruise right before they re-did all of their ships. I think this may be a little different.  Oh, I cannot wait! Do you have any travel tips or recommendations, favorite restaurants? My one big travel tip — ALWAYS bring blister pads and drink LOTS of wine.

See where we’ll be going below…

accunet.orgRome, Italy

Krup Street::Isle of CapriCapri, Italy

www.lonelyplanet.comFlorence, Italy

beauty-places.comPortofino, Italy

kids.britannica.comTunis, Tunisia

forum.cyclingnews.comSete, France

www.historvius.comBarcelona, Spain

Oh yeah. I’m ready to get on that plane!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekend Getaway

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We got away this weekend to Illinois in order to celebrate my fathers 60th birthday. It was lovely and we are now completely exhausted and still trying to make it home at 10:00 pm. Only one more hour of driving to go. 5:00 am tomorrow morning is going to feel a little earlier than normal. Oh yeah, I have a surprise to tell y’all … Later 🙂

Austria: Where the Hills are Alive

Ok, so maybe it has been too long since my last Austria post… but I wanted to finish up with the last leg of my trip where we stole away to the mountains. This is the Waigrain Region of Mountains in the town of St. Johann im Pongau. It’s better known as a ski resort town but I got to thinking that it would be a shame to be in such a beautiful country, known for it’s lovely mountains, and never actually see any. So we went to see them.

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There is no better time to take ridiculously silly pictures than when you are on a long train ride. So on our way to the mountains we took these… only my bestie can really appreciate how weird I really am and still love me for it. I hope they make you laugh as well.

c/o VLRS

The view. Isn’t it beautiful?!?!  We stayed at the lovely Edelweiss Hotel,  a delicious 4-star (all natural and green) resort. They were incredibly helpful, they picked us up from the train station (free of charge), fed us incredibly well, and were there whenever we needed something. I can’t wait to go back there!!

c/o VLRS

… the spa.

… and a video!

We did actually do some hiking! We were really fortunate because the resort actually had a trail that we could start hiking on — so we didn’t have to take a bus or anything like that to get to the trail head. So that was really nice. The leg out was mostly uphill so it made coming back extra easy. I got this hair brained idea that we should get off the train, take a trail and start hiking immediately and then stay in a farm hut along the trail… and in my head it was going to be beautiful and picturesque and not difficult at all… well let me tell you, I am so happy that we didn’t do it. Staying at a resort was definitely the way to go!!!

Anyone else notice the deer stand?

Gangsta Paradise? It snowed 6 inches the night before we arrived. The day we were hiking, temperatures were in the low 70’s. Needless to say, everything was melting — but we had a good time in the snow while it was there.

I can’t wait to go back. It was so wonderful. Here, I am jumping for joy. I love the mountains. I love the fresh air. I love “getting away from it all”. AND, I love my bestie for agreeing to go anywhere in the world with me… even if that means we have to go hiking…

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Today I am thankful for: it being Friday and getting to see my Dad tonight!! Woohoo!!

Spread the good word.

Vienna, Austria: The Museum of Natural History

Ahhhh, The Museum of Natural History. Unexpectedly, it was my favorite museum in ALL or Austria. Content wise. I must say, I was incredibly disappointed in the two Modern Art Museums that I went to during my visit. While, yes, they did have some “bigger name” artists; I felt as though they had (let’s be honest) some of their crappier work. Again, I digress. This museum was great. And it housed the very first thing I learned about in my Survey of Art History class. The Venus of Willendorf.

Kinda a sex lady, don’t you think? For starters she’s one of the oldest intact artifacts around (but you may want to double check before you really quote me on that)… she is approximately 26,000 years old. DID YOU HEAR THAT? 26,000 years old!!! She’s a fertility goddess with over-exaggerated features. She has her lovely lady-lumps, some big ole birthing hips, and rock-star hair. She doesn’t stand up on her own and doesn’t have facial features. And I think she’s b.e.a.U-tiful. Weird, right? I know. But if you have a love for art history… you get it!

Yep. I’m rather strange. But I was SO excited.

Oh what BIG teeth you have Mr. Scary Bear. There were so many really great animals in the museum. They had a HUMONGOUS whale skeleton in there. I honestly think that I (and a few friends) could lay flat inside of a whales mouth.

The exhibits takes you through evolution, and then goes through all of the major “species”… like fish, birds, reptiles (skip the snakes!!), sea creatures, butterflies, big Huge animals… and the list goes on. I forgot how cool these museums are. EVEN when everything is in German!

This. Was. Great. They had an animated Dinosaur!!!! He moves!! I’m not quite sure why, but I really get a kick out it when the children scream. I kept thinking about the movie Night at the Museum, and how the big dinosaur skeleton asks like a dog — if you click on the video you can see how the dino’s tail wags 🙂 It makes me happy.

Baby elephant on the front steps of the museum. Too cute.

Today I am thankful for: NOT being jetlagged!! Woo hoo. AND a 4 day work week!!

Graz, Austria

Hello all. I’m finally settled back home and I’m not jetlagged — to0 badly. Although, I did take a nap an hour after I woke up. This jetlag is much better than when I got back from China. We’ll see. Anyways… my first full day in Austria was spent in a little city called Graz, just a 2.5 hour train ride South of Vienna. Ever heard of it? Yeah, I hadn’t either. But this guy recommended it to me and he know’s his stuff and he’s a trusted travel source and comedian! The town is a mix of old and new. Which I love. A lot of old historic cities really fight adding any type of modern architecture because most people think it will take away from the “essence” of an old historic city. I strongly disagree. And alternatively, I think in the case of the city of Graz, the adaptation of modern architecture has helped promote the city, add tourism, and revitalize it’s economy.

Sticking with the old = bad.

Doing something new = change = positive renewal.

I digress.

Unknowingly, the Kunsthaus Graz is rotating its collection and the large exhibition spaces were closed!! WOMP WOMP. But this is what we saw.

This is the Murinsel. It actually has a small cafe in the center of the walking path. It doesn’t look very exciting in the daylight but at night it comes alive.

I thought this was really cool. It wasn’t highlighting anything special. It was just a canopy in between these buildings.

I really like these stairs. It will take you to the top of the mountain. This is the Grazer Schlossberg which literally translates in to Castle Mountain. Now you can take all of those stairs OR you can take the lazy approach (which is exactly what we did). Check out this really cool elevator and guess what? It’s free. Not always the case.

And that was most of what we saw during our day trip to Graz. I highly recommend it. It was a lovely place. It will be even lovelier when everything opens up this summer. If you have the opportunity, you should definitely schedule a vist. Graz is super cool.

Today I am thankful for: a day at home to readjust my personal time clock.  

Austria

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I made it. I’m here. I’ve arrived to Vienna. I’ve been here for almost 3 days now and this city has not been a disappointment. I’ll have to update you on my travels when I come home because the Internet is a little hard to come by and while posting from my iPhone is possible — it’s not my favorite. Tomorrow and Wednesday is going to be museum day!! I cannot wait to check out all the modern art. And guess what my friendly art history followers??? The Venus of Willendorf is located in Vienna!!!! Woohoo!! I don’t know why I’m so excited about that, but I am. Oh wait, maybe because she is 25,000 years old. That’s right. Ok. I’ll stop boring you about super old fertility gods. I’m going to keep taking awesome pictures and share them with you next week. And today I am thankful for cold weather. It’s been in the 40s here!!! This is what I get for not over-packing! Must. Go. Shopping.

Procrastination

Hello all. It’s been a while, I know. I made a short business trip to Beaufort, SC for a few days this week. This picture was taken from a site visit. We constructed a park with walking trails and  a lake. People will be able to rent kayaks and buy worms to fish and it’s all surrounded by these beautiful trees. It was really nice and the clouds were just right.

I have to be honest with you, I’ve been procrastinating. I leave for Vienna, Austria next Friday!!! I’ll be visiting my bestest friend in the whole wide world – and I don’t have one. thing. planned. This is very unlike me.  But after you look at a computer for 9 hours… the last thing I want to do is come home and continue researching places to go, stay, eat … etc. So tonight, I found some really great places that we’ll be going to. I’m really excited. I think it’ll hit me about… next Thursday night when I’m stressed out and haven’t started packing — that I’ll actually be leaving the country… but until then — meh. We’ll survive. We always do. So right now, I’m listening to the original soundtrack of the Sound of Music (I want y’all to know I’m singing every lyric and hitting every note!!!), I’ve written down some of the major scenes from the movie that we have to visit (according to my father) – I refuse to go to that gazebo… did you know that it’s not actually the real one, they had to move it due to trespassing– and I’ll be thinking of the mountains I hope to be climbing in 2 weeks. I hope y’all are ready for some serious picture posts! In two weeks, you can just call me freakin’ Heidi!

I hope everyone is doing well. If you’ve been to Austria and have recommendations, please send them in! Have a great rest of the week!

Today I am thankful for: Miss Carol’s chicken dumplings. They are making my stuffy nose feel better.

“She climbs a tree and scrapes her knee, her dress has got a tear…”  (sounds like me)

Guest Post: Spring Break 2012

My best friend is a world traveler. AND she’s the bomb . com. I asked her to do a guest post on her most recent travels and this is what she had to share…

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Unlike most of my sensible friends who went out into the “Real World” and found a “Real Job”, I decided to hide in school for another year to give myself a little more time to decide what I want to do with my life. Nine times out of ten I think that they made the right choice because they all appear to be moving forward with their lives (read: careers) while I am slowly treading water in the deep end. The one time of year that I am sure that the decision I made wins is April. While they are all struggling through 70-hour workweeks and filing taxes because of all of the money they make, I get to go on spring break.

Since this will likely be my last spring break (my poor father may have a stroke if I tell him I am going to remain unemployed) I thought I should really do it right. To increase the fun, I brought my French friend, Laure, along. She proved very useful because she can speak both French and Spanish which got us out of a few scraps, although oddly none of the countries we visited were French or Spanish speaking.

We began our trip in Vienna (where we are both studying International Law) and took a train to Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia.

This is a city with a beautiful city center. There is a canal that runs through the center of the city and each of the bridges that crosses it has a different design. Some were solid and industrial while others were light and artistic. There was even a bridge covered in padlocks in the ancient tradition that if you and a lover cross the bridge and add a padlock then your love will be true forever. I had never had Slovenian food before, but it turns out that it is not very different from Austrian food. A lot of meat and potatoes.

After exploring Ljubljana for a while we took the train to Bled to see Lake Bled. We were told that it is one of Slovenia’s most beautiful locations and we planned to hike around it and visit the local castle. However, as luck would have it, it was pouring with rain and we could not actually see very much of the lake at all due to all of the fog. Laure and I being the troopers that we are decided to walk around the lake anyway and we had the whole place to ourselves. Clearly, we were the only two without enough sense to stay indoors.

After returning to the hotel and drying out a little bit, we finished exploring Ljubljana. Changing into dry clothes was a wasted effort because it rained on us all afternoon anyway. (As it would turn out, we would only have a day and a half of sunshine the whole trip.)

The next day we took a train to Koper, Slovenia where we were met by my friend Jamie and her husband, Randy. The rain followed us the whole way, but even the grey weather couldn’t detract from the beautiful countryside.

Everyone should take this train ride at some point in his or her life.

The city of Koper is a lovely little place, but there is not a whole lot to do there. We had a car, so we went driving down the coast to Piran, which I enjoyed a lot. We explored the tiny town and then walked up the mountain to the church and further up to the castle. The views from there are worth the short little walk.

The next day we headed to Trieste, Italy. This is where my grandmother grew up and I felt very close to her by being there. It made all of her stories so tangible because I could see everything that she spoke of. There is a pier off the main square that she always talks about and is her favorite place in the world. Here it is on the day I was there.

Randy had to go back to work after Trieste, so the girls headed to Milan just in time for Easter Sunday. What better way to celebrate than to go to Catholic mass in Italian?

The next morning we took a plane to Istanbul, Turkey. This was one of the highlights of the trip for me because I knew that the culture would be so different from anything that I had ever experienced before. We only got to spend three days there and I know that I could have spent much longer. We saw the Hagia Sophia, the Spice Market, and the Topkapı Palace. We saw where the Black Sea and the Adriatic Sea meet and we even tried Turkish coffee. In Turkey, they read coffee ground and not tea leaves. My three favorite things from the visit were:

The Blue Mosque:

The Grand Bazaar:

And taking a boat across the Bosporus to the Asian side of Istanbul for some less touristy food.

Then on Thursday we flew to Athens, Greece. The moment we landed we realized that it wasn’t raining! So quickly dropped all of our stuff at the hotel and walked up to the top of the Acropolis to see the Parthenon and catch the amazing view of the city.

Athens is such a beautiful city, but I think I am a little biased because it was the only city we visited that it didn’t rain constantly. We managed to do a lot in Athens, including: the Acropolis, Philopappos Hill, the National Archaeological Museum, the Theatre of Dionysus, the Ancient Agora, Syntagma Square and the Parliament building, as well as the Acropolis Museum.

In the afternoon we took a bus to Cape Sounio to see the Temple of Poseidon.

The next day we saw Hadrian’s Arch and the Temple of Olympian Zeus. This is the largest ancient temple in the world.

Then we went to the Panathenaic Stadium where you can run in the footsteps of the original Olympic winners.

Purely by accident, we were in Greece during Orthodox Easter (just like we had been in Italy during Catholic Easter). We thought this would book end our trip nicely so we went to a midnight Easter service at the oldest Orthodox church in Athens. It was certainly an experience that I will never forget.

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Today I am thankful for: receiving my passport in the mail. I don’t even think it took a week to expedite! And now it’s official. I get to see my best friend in Vienna in May!!!!