Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Final European Thoughts

8 Countries + 13 Cities + 17 Days = 1 Amazing Vacation!
 
It's hard to believe the trip we planned and anticipated for so long has come and gone!  I remember when Logan came home from his mission we talked about traveling back to where he served and seeing other parts of Europe and I swore it would never happen.  Happen it did and boy did we have an incredible time!  I'm so glad I updated my blog every night because I'm sure I would have forgotten a ton of details by now and I don't think I would have the motivation to go back and blog about 17 days' worth of traveling.  As a way to tie the whole thing up, I've made a list of some things I loved and didn't love now that I can look back on the past 2+ weeks.

Things I will NOT miss:
-Paying to use public restrooms!  Seriously??  I couldn't believe how common that was!
-Tolls.  Wretched tolls.  I swear we paid just as much money in tolls as we did in gas.
-European breakfasts.  If I had to eat meat and cheese for breakfast one more time I was going to die! 
-Cigarette smoke!  My goodness.  I felt like we were walking through clouds of smoke at every corner.
-Seeing so many people in the nude at public beaches.

Things I WILL miss:
-Waking up in a new city/country nearly every day.
-Spending 24/7 with Logan and not having to worry about school or work.
-Trying the food I heard Logan talk about for years.  I have to say it definitely lived up to its hype!
-Gorgeous views of mountains, beaches, and cities every single day.
-Interacting with church members from other countries.  I love that no matter where you go, the church stays the same (even if it's in a language I can't understand).
-Gaining a greater and greater appreciation for nature and just the world in general by spending a short time outside of my little box.
-Hearing Logan reminisce about his mission as we walked through the same streets he walked through nearly 5 years ago.

Favorite City or Country:
There's no way I could choose a favorite.  By far the most beautiful countries were Austria and Switzerland but London had the most to do and see.  Barcelona and France were amazing because, let's be honest, who doesn't love the beach?  I would love to go back to each city one day and see even more!

Biggest Accomplishment:
Staying healthy!  We were in a group of six and the other four were all pretty sick at one point or another.  Pink Eye, sinus infections, and stomach issues all ran through the group and least once and Logan and I somehow avoided it the entire time.  Thank goodness!  I felt so bad when one of our friends got sick and couldn't fully enjoy everything we were doing.
 
A lot of people were surprised when they heard how many cities we were visiting in just over two weeks but I'm so glad we did it that way rather than only visiting a few places for a longer amount of time.  Going through Europe so fast allowed us to get a little taste of more places so that one day we can go back to our favorites.  If we have the opportunity to do that again, I would definitely want to see a number of other countries we didn't make it to in about that amount of time.

If you're on a budget like we were, staying in hostels is definitely the way to go.  Sleeping in a bunk bed every night and staying in the same room as 15+ other people isn't necessarily ideal but we saved a ton of money by doing that most of the time rather than trying to stay somewhere nicer. 

So many thanks to Tom, Chelsie, Russ, and Ellen for making this trip so enjoyable!  We had such a good time with them and loved sharing our experiences with such fun people.  Can't wait until next time!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Day 17: Traveling Home! (Sunday, August 24th)

On the road yesterday and in the air today! Our morning began around 4:45 which came way too fast because of how late we got to bed last night. I guess the one advantage of being exhausted is it's much easier to sleep on the planes. Here's what our day looked like:

Flight #1: Barcelona to London | 2 Hours

Logan and I were both able to sleep for most of this flight. 

Flight #2: London to Iceland | 3 Hours

After a three hour layover, we boarded our next flight from London to Iceland, which was three hours. Logan slept most of this flight again and I slept off and on for probably half of it. 

Flight #3: Iceland to Denver | 8 Hours

We then had a layover in Iceland for just over two hours before our looong flight from Iceland to Denver. I was worried about not being able to sleep on this flight because I had already slept quite a bit on the others. Thank goodness for movies! I ended up watching two movies, attempted to sleep here and there, and messed around on the monitor in front of me. It was definitely a long flight but not the end of the world. 

Flight #4: Denver to Salt Lake | 1.5 Hours

Finally, a short flight! We had a two and a half hour layover before finally boarding our flight to Utah. I was so excited! I didn't care whether I slept or stared out the window the whole time, I just wanted to be home. I was glad our last flight was the shortest one because I was so ready to be done with traveling and finally be in my own bed. Logan and I both slept the entire flight and my cute parents picked us up and took us home. Thanks, mom and dad! 

I can't believe our trip is over! We truly had the time of our lives and I couldn't have wished for anything better. At the same time, I'm thrilled to be home and can't wait to have a regular routine again!

Tomorrow: Back to work. Back to school. Back to Life.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Day 16: Driving, Driving, Driving (Saturday, August 23rd)

Our journey home has begun! We all made it out the door and on the road just after 9 o'clock and our GPS told us our drive to Barcelona would be a few minutes less than 9.5 hours, putting us to our hotel around 6:30 this evening. My hope was to pull in around 8 o'clock after all of our stops. We will have an early morning and long day tomorrow with all of our flights so I was hoping to get to bed at a decent time. Our drive was quite uneventful which is probably a good thing. This is pretty much as good as it got! 





Unfortunately about mid-way through our drive we hit some bad traffic that put us back an hour and a half and not too long after that we got stuck in a huge toll line for another hour and 15 minutes before finally moving again. Not too much later we hit some more traffic which put us even further behind. We were unhappy to say the least!

We ended up pulling in around 11:30. So much for our 8 o'clock arrival! Our hostel for the night is really close to the airport, which is great, but it seems to be in a pretty sketchy area. Good thing we'll only be here for a few hours! Here are our sleeping quarters. They're actually really nice!


We have to be up in just a few hours to make it to the airport so I better call it a night! Buenas Noches!

Weather Today:

We had great driving weather today and didn't get hit with anything wet until it lightly rained towards the end so that's definitely a plus!

Tomorrow: Flying, flying, and more flying!







Friday, August 22, 2014

Day 15: Adelboden, Switzerland (Friday, August 22nd)

Today we had our laziest morning yet and I loved it! We have been going non-stop this entire trip so I definitely welcomed a morning of taking it easy. Russ and Ellen woke up early to go paragliding but no one else wanted to drop the money so we all hung out in our cozy little house and planned the next couple days. One thing I have not loved on this trip is the breakfast food so yesterday at the store we grabbed some cereal and milk and I was in heaven this morning! I like meat and cheese but not so much for breakfast. Around lunchtime we ran to the only store we could find in the town and picked up a few things to cook back at the house and then it was off on our adventure for the day!

Meet the Scooter Gang!


For not very much money we were able to take a tram up the mountain and ride these heavy duty scooters back down. Oh boy, we had so much fun! We bought all-day passes so we were able to take all sorts of different trails and the scenery was gorgeous! 





Parts of the trail were pretty steep so we got going really fast but apparently that wasn't good enough for the guys so naturally they had to try a few new tricks. 


They handled their scooters pretty well until our last run when the mountain got the better of Tom. 


I so wish we had video of his fall! We seriously couldn't stop laughing! Anybody else's face would have looked like his hands but those of you that know Tom know that he's pretty acrobatic so he was able to bail himself out pretty well. 

By the time we got back to the house Russ and Ellen were there and we were all ready for dinner. Considering we're basically in the middle of nowhere we had to make a short drive into a small town. We ended up settling on a restaurant called Time Out Pub that had decent food but the atmosphere was the best! We sat outside in this little square where they had an orchestra, band, and singers providing live music. Such a fun way to spend our last real night of vacation!



After dinner we went back to our place and hung out/played card games. Russ and Ellen are taking off in another direction tomorrow but we all have a bit of driving ahead so I'm sure we'll want an early start. It's hard to believe our trip is basically over! I've loved every minute of it but I'm also excited to get back to my own bed and regular routine.

Goodnight from Adelboden! 



Weather Today:

Once again, we lucked out with nice weather! 64 isn't super warm but considering we expected snow we were very happy!



Tomorrow: The trek back to Barcelona begins

We were able to save a lot of money by dropping our car off where we picked it up so we have 9.5 hour drive back to Barcelona tomorrow. We're hoping to make some fun stops along the way to ensure the drive is somewhat enjoyable.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Day 14: Interlaken, Switzerland (Thursday, August 21st)

So remember at the end of yesterday's post when I mentioned that we had an hour left until we made it to our destination? Yeah, well that hour ended up being kinda crazy. We knew we were in trouble when our GPS said: "In 500 meters, board the ferry." Umm excuse me? We drove a bit further and kept hitting dead ends so we made a phone call and learned that it isn't possible to drive to Gimmelwald and that we'd have to leave our car and take the last tram that would be leaving in 20 minutes and we were still 15 minutes away from it. Long story short: We made it to the station just in time to park our car, grab our bags, and board the tram to our hotel. It was too dark last night to see any sort of view but when we woke up this morning we were able to see what we paid for. 




Our hotel was high in the alps so it was pretty cold when we woke up but the views were amazing! We took as much time as possible deciding what our plans were so we could sit and enjoy the scenery. 


So long, Pension Gimmelwald!



Tom, Chelsie, Russ, and Ellen wanted to do an intense hike up in Mürren but Logan and I weren't up for it so we drove down to Interlaken and had such a good time being alone and exploring the city. Our tram ride down wasn't half bad either!



We woke up too late for breakfast so our first stop was a cute restaurant for lunch called Mercato. 


After lunch we walked around and into all the cute shops. I could have spent so much money but fortunately our bags can't hold anything else otherwise I would have! I loved the small streets and the river that ran right through the city. 




This massive Toblerone was 139 francs! 


As we were walking we came across this beauty and had to stop for some pictures. The water is so pretty!


After seeing the river we decided we wanted to find the lake nearby and I'm so glad we did! It was gorgeous and peaceful as we sat right by the water talking, laughing and napping. 





Later in the late afternoon we met the others at a Coop and ate dinner. We didn't have plans for the evening so we all went back to the lake Logan and I had visited earlier and had a nice walk around it. We saw some of the cutest homes on the best property right by the lake. One day... :)


The place we're staying the next two nights is someone's house so we have a full kitchen but no food is provided and it's a ways away from any stores so we ran to the grocery store to stalk up for the next couple days. It's a cute little place but it's far away from the city so we'll have to see how that works out tomorrow.

We got into our place this evening earlier than we have this whole trip so we decided to stay in and relax a bit by playing cards and chatting. We don't have to be up early either so I'm really looking forward to getting a decent sleep tonight! Our living quarters are equipped with a family room, kitchen, bathroom, and three bedrooms. 

Family Room:


Kitchen:


On another note...we just heard that a volcano is going to erupt any day in Iceland which could really make it difficult to get home since we connect in Iceland. Fingers crossed it holds off until Monday!

Weather Today:

The weather was actually much warmer than we expected but we still needed our jackets most of the day. Fingers crossed we avoid the snow the next 2 days!



Tomorrow: More Switzerland!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Day 13: Munich, Germany (Wednesday, August 20th)

Guten Tag from Germany! Munich was more of a pit stop to split up our drive rather than a city we actually spent much time in but it was still a lot of fun seeing the center of Logan's mission. Breakfast was provided by the hostel, which was okay, and then we all got ready and packed up before walking through the city a bit. It looks like the weather in Switzerland will be pretty chilly (like 30 degrees!) and Ellen didn't bring any pants so we stopped by C&A for her to pick up some jeans. We then continued on to the Rathaus, which was really neat. We happened to be there at the top of the hour so we were able to see Glockenspiel where the music and little dancing people went off. 




The Church of Our Holy Lady was nearby so we stopped in for a quick visit but I didn't think any of it was picture worthy except for this:


Apparently that's Satan's footprint that he angrily left when he was told to leave. Weird. 

By this time we were ready for lunch but didn't want to waste too much time finding something so we ran into a little market and found our favorite treats. It definitely wasn't nutritious but it sure was delicious!


We made a detour on our way to Switzerland in order to see the Neuschwanstein Castle, aka the Disneyland Castle. It was amazing! We had a bit of a hike up but it was so worth it!



This was the view from our hike up to a bridge that overlooks the castle:






At this point we still had a 4.5 hour drive but we also needed to eat dinner so we decided to stop at the nearest town (The Neuschwanstein Castle is basically in the middle of nowhere) before making the final leg of our journey down South. After going on a wild goose chase for awhile with no luck, we stopped at a trusty McDonald's right on the way. It's interesting to see how the menus are different from back home.


After dinner we were finally on our way to Switzerland! I was pretty bored from all the driving we had already done so I pulled out the iPad and watched a movie which made the drive much better. We're actually in the car now but we still have another hour to go so I'm going to post this before we get there because I know I'll be too exhausted to do so when we arrive. I'll share an update about tonight's sleeping quarters tomorrow. 

It's time to call it a night! Our short stay in Germany was wonderful and I know I'm going to miss the warm weather! Guten Nacht!

Weather Today:

It was a bit nippy in Munich this morning! It lightly rained as we walked and was definitely jacket weather.




Tomorrow: Switzerland

I'm excited to actually explore Switzerland tomorrow!