Thursday, October 13, 2011

Our European Adventure

I'm finally doing it. I'm going to give my best efforts in regenerating all the wonderful memories we made in Europe. Please bear with me; this is not going to be an easy task considering how long it has been that we've been home.
The morning of June 14th, Derek's dad drove us to the SLC airport and sent us on our way. With giant backpacks in tow, we began what turned out to be the longest, most dreadful day of our whole trip. Of course we already knew that this was going to be the case because it was our fault. Earlier in our research we discovered that a plane ticket from SLC to England was much cheaper than to Rome. So, regardless of the many obstacles this would create, we chose to go with the cheaper.
After about 11 hours and a layover in Boston we arrived in the London Heathrow airport. Now we had to find our bus (2 hours long) to London Gatwick Airport where we caught our plane to Rome.

We made it to Rome, found Carl, (Derek's brother who lives in Oxford) and checked into our little shack of a hotel. The room was large enough to fit a bed, and that’s about it. We had about 7 channels on our television, mostly in Italian, and a view of the many antenna covered rooftops. It was perfect, because all we wanted to do was sleep for the next 3 days. Thankfully we had Carl there to help us keep perspective. After 3 days in Rome we felt pretty satisfied with our visit. We saw a lot of amazing ruins, ate a lot of pizza and pasta, and did enough walking to last me a life time. Note to self: No one cares how cute your shoes are, but it will be embarrassing when your husband is carrying you back barefoot, with bloody ankles.

This is us in a super tiny, rickety elevator

On the morning of June 18th we left Rome and headed for Positano. Two trains and a long, winding bus ride later we arrived to the most gorgeous little beach, tourist town I could ever dream of. This whole town was built on a hill, so there was only one winding road going down and back up the other side. Walking down to our Villa with our backpacks was not so bad, but all I could think about was when we would have to climb back up. When we saw our villa we were all blown away. It was so much better than the pictures. It was exactly what we would have wanted an Italian Villa to look like. Of course, this was by far the most expensive leg of our trip, but splitting the cost with 4 other people helped a lot.

Our one expensive meal on our last day in Positano

Positano was perfect in every way except for the beach. It was very hot almost every day, and since the beach had rocks instead of sand it was hard to walk or lay on the beach. The water was fairly cold and there were never waves. Still we enjoyed soaking up the sun, and watching our English/Scottish friends lather in sunscreen. We took two day trips while staying in Positano. One was to a fancy town in the Amalfi coast called Rovello, and the other was to Pompeii. Pompeii was definitely one of the highlights of the whole trip, but getting there was not so good. We had to take the winding bus ride again, which Carl has a really hard time with considering his history with motion sickness. About two minutes into the ride I started to feel sick, so I sat up at the front with Carl. Five minutes after that I had barfed all over the bus floor and Carl got the heck out of there. So I'm barfing and crying for the next 30 minutes on the bus, while Derek rubs my back. That’s for sure in the top ten most embarrassing moments for me. Barfing in public was not on the Euro trip checklist. Ironically enough, Carl ended up being okay, no thanks to me. Most of the other days we just wandered around the many glamorous shops, and wished we could buy stuff. We took turns cooking up cheap pasta meals for each other, and learned that you can buy a giant carafe of wine for practically nothing in Italy. I could really get used to cheap pizza and gelato every night, but Derek was about to kill someone for a burrito.
Leaving was not quite as difficult as I had anticipated. We found several series of stairs that wind through the innards of the town and take you to the top much quicker than the road. Although I do consider stairs one of my arch enemies, even without a backpack on, I had no choice but to follow everyone up. We all split up at the train station. Carl, Derek, and I headed through the Alps to Zurich, Switzerland; and Christain, Jamie, and Alice headed back to Oxford.


Taking the train through the Alps was one of the most extraordinary things I have ever experienced. The best way for me to describe it, is to say that it doesn’t look real. It reminds me more of a train set you get when you’re a kid and you set everything up all perfectly. Gorgeous green rolling hills, with perfectly placed trees, and colorful homes all surrounded by water. Our amazing CouchSurfing host, Tom, met us at the train station in Zurich. We were so glad because train stations are very confusing when you don't speak the language. Plus he had to help us with our money exchanging issues, and getting lockers for all our baggage. He took us out on the town for a few hours, and we got our first kebab. We had such a good time with Tom. We wanted to take him home with us. We had separate rooms, and mattresses to sleep on. He fed us coffee, tea, and all the bread and spreads we could ask for. Tom took us on a hike through the Alps, where we saw lots of cows and a famous monastery. We barbequed on the lake just outside of his flat, and he taught us how to make chocolate bananas. Delicious!! Our last day at Tom's we took a much overpriced train to Lucerne, but could only spend an hour there before we had to meet our next CouchSurfing host, Reto. Unfortunately, we had not heard from Reto all day and were beginning to panic. We didn't have internet, phone service, or any extra money to spend. Finally, Reto texted that he was sick and had gone to the hospital earlier. He wanted us to stay somewhere else but we had nowhere to go. The cheapest hotels in that area were almost 500 francs a night. Eventually we swallowed our pride and called Tom. Of course he was so unbelievably nice and insisted that we come back and stay with him. We were so relieved. Feeling a little awkward knowing that we were putting him out, we got there to Tom making us homemade Tiramisu! Our extra day with Tom was spent at this awesome and slightly dangerous water park.

At Rhine Fall, a really huge, scary waterfall.

The next morning we met up with Reto at a supermarket by the train station. He bought tons of food for a bbq at his place and wouldn’t let us pay for any of it. Reto was the kindest person, and it was not awkward even though we didn’t understand half of what each other were saying. He had a gorgeous home with a pool and lots of land with goats. Carl left early the next morning, headed for oxford, and Derek and I left for Paris. Yay!!

Tune in shortly for Paris and England.....

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