Sunday, October 14, 2012

Ma Derniere Aventure - Paris

I drove 300 Km and paid 20 Euro in tolls to get to the beautiful city of Paris.  I booked 4 nights in a Euro Camp location. It was like a campground, only I stayed in a 2 bedroom mobile home. There were no bed sheets, towels, or toilet paper, so I had to bring my own. The trailer itself was very small, but cozy, a lot like real camping.  On the plus side, I was able to park my car right outside the porch, and it was a 10 min walk to the train station. From the train station I was able to ride right into the city center of Paris, catch my favorite friend the "Hop on Hop off" bus and tour the incredible city and architecture.

I Spent half a day admiring the Eiffel Tower, I hopped off the bus and slowing walked a good half mile toward this magnificent icon of Paris.  I was so amazed in the structure and the iron work that was fabricated to create such an awesome artifact. Once I got to the bottom of the hill, I was able to see the entire structure from underneath.  I rode the first elevator to the second floor, spent some time looking around the entire city and then caught another elevator to get the top. (I thought about taking the 1400 steps to the first floor, but was glad there was an elevator)  I had dinner at the top overlooking Paris.  It was such a great afternoon, much of it was just enjoying this marvel.

I rode around the bus until about 9:30 at night, it was like seeing Paris all over again with everything lit up at night.  I spent the next day going from point to point, getting off of one stop and walking around.

There was so much to see and I am sure I did not see everything, but what I did see was unbelievable.

I decided to take a break from my Europe Tour and spent a day at Disney Paris, it was very relaxing and enjoyable

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Brugge, Belgium

This week I decided to spend sometime in Paris, I once again borrowed my sister's car and was on my way.  I made a stop in the town of Brugge  I parked my car outside the gate of the town.

Grote Markt

I spent only a couple of hours in the town, but found it quite intriguing. The architecture of the whole town was not like anything else I had seen.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

5 Countries in a Week

This week I decided to take a road trip through parts of Europe and make it through 5 countries. I stopped in Berlin, Germany; Prague, Czech Republic; Salzburg, Austria; Munich, Germany; Zurich, Switzerland; and finally Heidelberg, Germany.  I borrowed my sister's 96 Ford escort wagon and headed out for the 2400 Km road trip.  Along with the help of a GPS, cracked pepper sunflower seeds, chips, and of course some Mountain Dew, I was on my way across Europe.  I had a great time, and experienced a lot in my journeys, along the way I took many pictures and have shared a few with you as well as some of my adventures in this Blog post, I hope you enjoy the journey as much as I did.


Tuesday night I drove 581 Km to Berlin, I spent one night in a little hotel on the outskirts of town, the next morning I drove down to the city center and parked.  I was able to catch a "hop on hop off" bus from there and I spent the whole day around Berlin.  

On the left is the remains of the Berlin Wall
Below is part of the East Side Gallery, this part of the wall was painted by different artists once the wall was taken down

Brandenburger Gate

I'm starting to realize that I 
didn't pay enough attention
in school, because I really
didn't know anything about
Berlin.  Fortunately, I have
had this opportunity...          

Check Point Charlie was the best known crossing point between East and West Berlin during the cold war


Some of my friends told me that if I was going to be in Europe I needed to get to Prague, I'm glad I did so.  It was a long 351 Km Wednesday night (I had opted to not use the toll roads into Czech Republic) and because of that I found myself driving through a lot of small towns and going really slow.

 There was a point when I thought about turning around, but didn't.  I made sure my doors were locked, and avoided any eye contact with the drunks hanging out around the local bars.  Needless to say 6 hours later I found my hotel.  The next morning I decided to try an new adventure and grabbed a cab from my hotel and went down to Old Town, from there I joined a van and walking tour.

The van drove us around the city and up on to the mountain top, where the Castle resided.  From there we walk our way down the streets and back into the city center.  Afterward I walk around and grabbed some more pics, while I was in Prague I reflected on how  prettier the town was than Berlin.  There was a lot of Gothic buildings, but mixed with newer colorful buildings.  It was as gorgeous as my friends had told me.


Thursday night I drove another 338 Km
(because of the earlier night I decided to pay the toll fees)
down to Salzburg, Austria.  As I woke up the next morning
to head out to the Eagles Nest, I immediately fell in love
with the entire country.  The hills
were just so beautiful with
green grass, amazing views,
buildings with red roof tops and
because of the time of the year, the leaves were filled with color.
I am pretty sure I could have spent the rest of my vacation there, it reminded me a lot of Midway, UT.

To get to the Eagle nest I drove into the town of Bergenstein and up a steep hill, parked my car in a lot and bought a bus ticket to take me the rest of the way up the mountain side. Once near the top I walked through a long tunnel and came to the elevator doors, once inside the gold plated elevator we rode up to the top of the resort.  I have been on a few mountain tops, but the view from this one has been the most amazing.
I ended up having lunch
on the top, just outside of
the Eagles Nest, and this
was the view I had for lunch. I actually made a couple of phone calls form the top, how cool is that? Once back to the bottom, I drove around the rest of the day, taking pictures of the different towns and farms. Once I was good and lost I had the GPS take me back to my hotel.  It was a great day.


Saturday mid-morning I drove 146 Km into Munich, and rode the U-Bahn (all I did was follow the  girls and guys that were  dressed in their Dirndl or Lederhosen) into the center of Munich to check out Oktoberfest.
I know many of you are
wondering why  I would
stop there because it is
well known for drinking beer.
Well it is also the largest fair in the world.  It is just like the State Fairs (just beer oriented) that we have in the States with Carnival rides and Fair food, which is the main reason I wanted to go.  I walked around for about 2 hours, just trying out different kinds of Wurst, pretzels, and other bake goods.  I would walk up to a booth and ask them what they would recommend and try it, It was an experience I will always remember. By the way most of the drinking was inside these large tents, and so there was not any boozing going on in the streets.


During my 313 Km drive into Zurich, I had a intense experience. Gas is pretty expensive in Europe, and so if I use a Esso gas station I would get a little bit of discount.  That being said, I was driving on the Autobahn and realized that I was almost out of gas, I immediately started looking for an Esso gas station along the route, but no luck, so I decided I would just pull off at the next gas station.  Well all of a sudden I hit construction and was brought to a slow crawl, and my gas light came on. So for the next few kilometers I kept asking Heavenly Father to help me get to the next exit for gas.  Since the construction was causing some heavy traffic I missed the exit and was now confined to one lane with barriers on each side, and no where to pull off.  I made a deal with Heavenly Father at that moment that I would be willing to walk miles to get gas, as long as I could make it through the barriers and pull off on a shoulder.  It seemed like forever, but eventually there was another exit and the GPS wanted me to go back the other way to the gas station. As I crossed over the bridge and was ready to turn back on to the Autobahn I looked over and saw a town, I thought there has to be a gas station there.  For some reason I was urged to go straight into town, I immediately decided to do so and about 1 and 1/2 Km later I pulled into a Esso gas station.  What a relief!!!
I later found out that they give you a ticket if you run out of gas on the Autobahn, Wow! I drove down to Zurich and spent Saturday night downtown in a Hotel.


I woke up early the next morning and drove 320 Km to get to the ward building in Heidelberg.  The main purpose of this week long trip was to end up in the city of Heidelberg Sunday morning to see this guy.

Elder Shad Sommerville

When I got to the chapel, he was inside the bathroom, so I waited in the hall for him to come out.  He was so surprised to see me and it was such a great experience seeing him as a missionary, I have known him since he was 9 and it was just great to see him this way.  

Since Monday was his P-Day we were able to go to lunch together along with his companion Elder Liddle.  It was so cool to hear him 
order our food in German, and actually sound like he belonged there.  Afterward we hiked up to this amazing ampitheatre and along the way saw the Heidelberg Castle.

It was a great day and a great way to end this week long trip.  Afterward I drove 353 Km to get back to my sisters in Sonsbeck, Germany.  What a great trip to remember

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Cheers Mate

Over 450 castles in the UK, the one featured here on the header is the Leeds Castle.  This week we were in the United Kingdom, and this was one of the castles that we were able to visit.

We decided to try a new adventure and drove our cars through the Netherlands and onto a ferry which then took us over to London. 9 hours later we were in the UK.

After visiting Leeds Castle we went over to the London Temple.

We spent another day going through some ancient Ruins of an Abbey located in Bury St. Edmunds

And of course we booked a Double Decker tour bus around London, we were able to see the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace.

Saw the  Parliament building including the Big Ben, Westminster Chapel, London Bridge, and Tower Bridge

It was a long week, normally I don't have to plan my trips around meals, nap time, or bathroom breaks, but it was an enjoyable week at the same time. It was nice to be able to spend the week with the Taylor's, not just myself. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Quando a Roma

…do as the Romans do, and so I did.  I found a flight from Dusseldorf to Rome for $75 (plus fees) through RyanAir.  If you can handle all of the advertisements and sales pitches that are presented by the flight crew from their many different sponsors (food, smokes, and cologne) then this price is very do able. I just put my headphones on and it was like watching the commercials on TV on Mute.
As the Romans, I ended up walking around the magnificent ancient ruins taking my own personal tour through the ages of time. I was able to book a hotel in Ciampino, from the hotel I would take a shuttle to the train station, and then ride the train into Termini. Once there I jumped on a “Hop on Hop off” tour bus, which allowed me to get off at any stop and walk around this amazing city. When I was done I was able to grab another bus and go on to the next stop. Getting around was not that difficult once I figured out the train and shuttle buses.  Also, most Europeans are taught English as a second language so I was able to find many that could help me navigate through the city.  Even when ordering anything it was as simple as pointing at something and paying.

My first stop and my favorite was the Coliseum, I spent half a day walking around the outside and inside of this 2000 year old ruin.  It was so cool to finally see it in real life; I have always enjoyed the many different movies that this Coliseum has been featured in.  No matter how much movie magic they use to display this artifact it is still better in its natural glory.  You do have to use your imagination though, almost all of the marble that covered the entire floor and ceilings have been destroyed, all of the seating has disappeared, and the entire platform is gone.  You are able to see all of the underground tunnels and cells that caged both criminals and animals.  I never thought of it as a Movie Theater, but that is exactly what it was in those days, and it didn’t even cost a dime to go to an event. 
I ended my first day walking around the Vatican, was told I could spend a good half day there, but not for me.  Spent about an hour to walk through St. Peters Cathedral, and was able to see the changing of the guards at the gate.
I spent the next 3 days walking through all of the different ruins that had been built over the last 2000 years. Would jump on the bus, get off at a stop and walk around for awhile, grab another bus and hit another stop.  It was amazing to see 2000 year old buildings with 1000 year old buildings right next to it, many Cathedrals different statues and fountains.  During my “Walking Rome” I got lost trying to find the Trevi Fountain, I had asked a few people and either I was given bad directions or I couldn’t follow the directions. I decided to take a break and grab something to eat.  Afterwards, I’m glad to report that I finally found the Trevi Fountain, it was the last thing on my list I knew I needed to see, mainly cause many of you would have asked if I had, it turned out to be very cool and impressive.

I have never been a fan of Gelato, but I thought I would give it another try, seeing how I was actually in Rome.  Not my favorite, but the Italian ice cream was very enjoyable, so I stuck with that. I tried the famous Panini, and also Margarita pizza, both were very delicious, but I still prefer In-n-Out or a meat lovers pizza.
I spent the last day in the shopping district; I went down a street and up the next looking at all the different shops.  When I would pass by a bakery or cafĂ© I would walk in, point and try something new, continue walking and stop for something else to try.  I did buy a few Italian silk ties and a couple of T-shirts.
When in Rome…do as the Romans, I had a great time, and would suggest you add this to your Bucket List, but don’t wait until you are too old to walk the “Museum” of Rome.

Enjoy the slide shows, onto the next adventure!