Thursday, October 24, 2013

Cruise time!! First European cruise . . . we were not dissapointed!

When I received an email with a discounted European 7 night cruise for $399 a person I had no idea that the ship would be so nice. . . I honestly thought we would get a small cabin, tucked away under a stairwell in the furthest part of the ship . . and that was ok . . .after all we were only paying $399 a person for a week of fun, floating about the Mediterranean sea.

I was flabbergasted!! Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas was stunning!!  The ship was amazing! Complete with a basketball court, a state-of-the-art gym and spa center, rock climbing, miniature golf, roller rink, several pool areas and a small shopping strip down the center of the boat, this ship was not at all what I expected!  I was even more blown away when we found our room . . . only to discover the room looking out over the main promenade! It was beautiful!

And the food. . . . since I have run out of positive descriptive words, let me just say. . I gained about 7 pounds.  Is that enough description for the food?? 

Oh what fun we had about the ship . . . games of rook, shows, ping pong and more food. . our days at sea were relaxing and enjoyable. . . never boring . .

We were able to spend quality time with my parents (much needed) as well as the enjoyment of four countries!  (those adventures will be separate posts)

Overall . . . Royal Caribbean impressed me . . . . I would recommend this cruise line . . and this specific ship! Lovely it was!


Sunday, October 20, 2013

(back to our road trip through Italy) . . onward to Pisa and Cinque Terre!

Wow . . . never thought I would make it to the leaning tower of Pisa . . . but that is just where I ended up one sunny day in May! :-) Pisa was great!! I have heard some negative comments about the fact that the only thing to see in Pisa is the tower . . . but I definately think that is enough! It was fabulous! I think we enjoyed looking at all of the poses people were striking in an effort to "hold up the tower" almost as much as viewing the tower itself. Truely was beautiful and I am so glad we did not listen to those negative comments and decided to stop! I LOVED it!!


 Our next stop was the Cinque Terre! The cinque terre consists of 5 small villages (within hiking distance to each other) along the coast of the Italian Riviera. The five cities, along with the area surrounding, are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We personall visited the fourth city, Vernazza, which is the most famous and most pictured of all 5 cities. We were able to see first hand the great distruction that came the the Cinque Terre in October of 2011 when torrential rains caused severe flooding and mudslides. Almost two years later we could still see the damage that was done. Vernazza was colorful and full of life! (it was also raining and quite wet) We enjoyed a nice lunch at the edge of the pier and continued with a hike up in the hills to get better views, and pictures, of this little Italian jewel. I would have loved to stay a few days and hike (or take the train in the event of sudden laziness) from one town to the next. I have heard that each of the cities have their own unique style and beauty. Well . . . I have a year left here in Europe . . . perhaps I will make it back before I leave :-) We also witnessed the sneaky fingers of "umbrella snatching Bev" . . be careful with your umbrella. If it is left laying about she will snatch it faster than you can blink . . . we added two large umbrellas to our stash this day

(boys enjoying one of the many "gelato" stops)
(umbrella snatching Bev strikes again . . and again. . and again)

Friday, October 18, 2013

A trip full of disaster . . . featuring Breath of Death and Breath of Decay (mika and milo). Also known as . . . Our 4-year anniversary trip

 . . . . our 4-year anniversary was coming up . . . oh my!!  Where to go?!?  We live in Europe . . so many different exciting places to go within such a small radius!  We decided to go to a small, medieval walled city in Germany . . . Rothenburg ob der Tauber.  Little did we know the horrors we were about to face . . .

We decided that our sweet, cuddly, fuzzy, white angles (mika and milo) should come with us as it was just a one night stay and the place we were visiting was very dog friendly.  We also had some recent nightmares with dog sitting and decided they would be safer in our care.  It was to be a grand couple of days!  We were planning on taking our Christmas photos there, spending a couple of days walking through the cobblestone streets and shopping at the cute and quaint boutiques . . . just enjoying the company of our small little family and the four years we had been together.

Our difficulty started with the 3.5 hour drive in which we encountered numerous "staus" (German traffic jam), yipping and whining from the backseat and to top it off the high pressure pump in the mini went out.  We arrived tired, worried and in bad dispositions. 

Our hotel was very nice.  Hotel Eisenhut was located right in the middle of downtown Rothenburg and had old world charm.  Wood beam in the ceiling, quaint rooms and beautiful views!  Unfortunately one of our precious babies decided to soil the carpet as soon as we went to dinner.  sigh.  We had JUST let them out.  why??!?  Nevertheless. . . dinner was delightful!

The village was equally as delightful! Cobblestone streets, shops, pastries and old crooked buildings . . . it was as if we had stepped back into the 1300's when most of the buildings were made.  I would have loved to have spent hours meandering aimlessly through the streets, eating goodies and buying trinkets . . . however . . when walking our little angels, milo decided it was his duty to inform us of every other dog, sound, car and insect that he came in contact with.  We ended up carrying him most of the time with one hand firmly wrapped around his muzzle.  Mika choose the most inappropriate spots in which to relieve herself. . . such as the front carpet of a nice hotel. . . . again. . . sigh.

(bakery with famous schneelballen)
I think we managed to get some decent pictures . . maybe.  And we were able to enjoy the delightful schneelballen (dessert famous in Rothenburg) as well as poke around the Christmas Village in the Kathe Wohlfahrt. 

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, I shall return!

We decided just to leave early . . . come home. . . have some dinner and light a fire . . .

We also decided that was the first and last of the pups adventures with us in Europe

(Happy 4th year anniversary hunny!!  You are an amazing, caring and talented person!)