Monday, June 1, 2009

Italy, Austria & Germany for our Honeymoon- Italy

After an amazing week with friends and family & getting married, we hoped onto an airplane the next morning with only 2 hours of sleep to Europe. We had absolutely no problem sleeping at all on the way there. We had a layover in Paris and then were on our way to Rome. I had never been to Europe before but Christian had lived there for almost two years before so he been to some of the places that we traveled to before. We made our way through customs and found a cab driver to take us to our hotel in Rome. It was a cute little hotel called Hotel Virgilo that was within walking distance to the main part of Rome. Nothing crazy but it was very affordable, clean and close to everything. We wandered a little bit and then went out to dinner later that night and had some wine.

The next morning we got up and started on the site seeing stuff. The Trevi Fountain was only minutes away from our hotel so we went to that first. Then we headed to the Coliseum, that was so cool! It is a good meeting place where you can purchase your tickets to get into the Coliseum, the two ancient ruins sections. I believe the tickets were about $30 a piece and it was worth every penny. There are guys standing outside that you can take your picture with if you purchase the tickets to see the structures. We did the guided tour in the Coliseum. It was nice to have the guided tour because the guy explained everything the used to happen there, the history of the Coliseum, etc. It is crazy when you think about what used to go on there and how different it used to be.

Then we went to the ancient ruins called Imperial Fora, it was amazing there! The area was so large and to see all of the structures that were recovered and built thousands and thousands year ago was just undescribable. They have recovered so many different things from the buildings, to the bowls they used, to the sculptures that were made. That night we went to a restaurant called Birra Peroni and the food was amazing! The food and the wine were amazing every place you go in Italy. After dinner, we found ourselves at at an Irish Pub called the Autobar 301 Badia. The bar was packed and we had a blast.
The next morning we had our complementary breakfast at the hotel and then went to the Vatican. Another place that is undescribable. You can take pictures in there but not the 16th Chapel. Make sure that you wear something with sleeves in the Vatican, no one that worked there said anything but a random tourist started freaking out on me because my shoulders were barely showing. I was wearing a backpack so I just moved the straps over my shoulders. It was kinda funny how the dude just started freaking out on me.
We then went to the Castle San Angelo & Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. Both places were beautiful. The castle still had the cannon balls, cannon shooters, etc from then and running water. The view from the top was beautiful. Then Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore was just breathtaking. The paintings & the ceiling were so cool. Plus the had the biggest organ that I have ever seen in my life! Look at where the person sits in the picture). We ate dinner at Esso Staz that night & then the next morning, got our rental car and headed to Florence.

We got a little Alfa Romeo as a rental car. I don't know how to drive stick so Christian drove the whole time. I wish they still imported these cars to the states, this was a cool little car. We went just went off of the map of where to go. We did learn that you are not aloud to drive in the city of Rome or Florence if you are a tourist. The local people who work in the city have a special tag on their vehicle because they try to prevent traffic & pollution in the city. There are cameras up all over and you will get pulled over it you're spotted driving with out one within the limits. This made it hard to park our car when we made it to Florence. We just found a garage just outside the limits and made our way to our hotel called the Hotel Fenice Palace. This was a great little place too. When Christian booked it, he made a note that we were on our honeymoon and & they gave us the whole top floor to ourselves. Again, nothing super fancy but clean place that was close to all of the sites. We could see the Cathedral of Santa Maria Maggiore just out our window. We did not arrive until later in the day so did most of the site seeing the next day.

We did not know much about Florence so we decided to take one of those double deck tours buses. We were not too big on it because they are kinda cheesy but it takes you to all of the tourist spots & did not want to get the car back out of the garage. It was very beautiful traveling around the city in the bus. You could get off at any of the stops and then get back on another one whenever you were ready, it was very convenient. We had seen many, many beautiful and amazing churches in Rome & there were a lot in Florence too. We were kinda churched out so we more just wondered around the rest of the day. The landscape was beautiful in Florence. We enjoyed Florence a lot but I'm not sure if we would travel back there again.

The next morning we headed up the west coast of Italy towards the Cinque Terre. On our way up, we found a cool little spot along the ocean called Pontile Medagile D'Oro. We had some great lunch there and walked out onto the pier. It was beautiful.

Then later that afternoon, we made it to the Cinque Terre. This is hands down, the most beautiful place that I had ever been to. It's an area made up of five little towns along the ocean. The houses/apartments are built up along the cliffs and are pretty much attached to each other. The pictures don't even do the justice of how amazing it was there. Like the rest of our hotels, we found a hotel room on called the Hotel Locanda Dalla Compagnia in one of the towns, Riomaggiore. We had just booked a room but Christian made a note that we were on our honeymoon when booking and they actually gave us a little apartment with a balcony instead. It had a kitchen, sitting room & a bedroom, plus no TV, no phone, it was perfect.

There is not a lot of parking so we put some stuff in our backpack, left the rest in the car and walked down to our hotel. Since it was close to the evening when we got there, we just looked around at everything that night. It was so amazing there!

The next morning we got up kinda early to catch a ferry to the towns. There are three ways to get from town to town: the ferry, the walking path or the train. We took the ferry from town to town on the way out & then took the train back to where we were staying. We decided to start at the other end and work our way back. Our first stop was in the town called Monterosso. We spent most of our time here hiking and hanging out on the beach. We loved it there. The rest of the other towns we did hiking and checking out the scenery. The town on Manarola had over 1,000 steps to get to the top! You get off of the ferry or train and if you wanta get to the town, you gotta walk up all of the steps. But the view was awesome when you get to the top. While we were hiking, I needed to find a bathroom. We did and there was only a hole in the ground! No toilet! lol. I guess in places that are in the middle of no where or smaller places, that is what they use. I was mortified but thank goodness they had a handicap stall with a toilet and I was able to use that ;)

When we were getting back to the town, the local fisherman where returning for the day. They had some fresh fish. And when I mean fresh, I mean still moving! We picked up a little snack at the local market, had some wine on our porch and then headed to dinner later that night. I believe it was called Pensavo Peggio. It was really neat because the restaurant was literally built into the cliff, the wall were mostly rocks. I would say any place that you go to in any of those towns are going to have very fresh seafood & fantastic wine. We did not want to leave there.

Italy is one the coolest countries that I have ever been to because there are so many aspects of it. There is beautiful scenery everywhere you look, the food is amazing and it's incredibly romantic. You can go out and party, check out the ruins, go to a romantic dinner or hag out on the beach. They've got everything there ;)

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