Sunday, October 31, 2010

Eastern Europe Edition

Hello all from Prague, Czech Republic. This is the final stop on my European adventure. I am sad for my trip to end but am looking forward to catching back up with all of you and sharing some more stories! I have seen a ton! Officially I will be back in town on Wednesday 11/3. Look me up on a mountain near you (powder days anyone?) or one of many fine Denver establishments! On with the blog.

I visited Budapest, Hungary last week. An interesting fact is that the city is split down the middle by the mighty Danube River, the city on the west bank is called Buda and the east Pest. I spent several days just hiking around and checking out both spots. I got to explore Buda castle overlooking the entire city and the catacombs underneath. In pest, I spent a day hanging at a natural thermal bath. There were pools, interior and exterior, with varying mineral content and temperature. There were also saunas and exercise pools with doctors on hand for consultation. It was definitely the Hungarian thing to do. Relaxing!!

From there I headed northwest along the Danube to Bratislava, Slovakia. This was a quick stop as it really is a small city and doesn't warrant more than a day or two. While there I visited he historic downtown area, the Bratislava Castle and the UFO bridge. Then I headed east to Prague. Enjoy the pics of Budapest and Bratislava! See you all soon!
View of Buda Castle from the chain bridge.
View of Parliament and the Danube from  Buda Castle.
Buda Castle.

Cool sculpture in the catacombs under Buda Castle.
Cathedral in Bratislava.
View of old town Bratislava from the castle.
Bratislava Castle.
Bronze sculpture called "rubber neck" in Bratislava.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Slovenia and heading east!

Dober dan all, greetings from Slovenia (that is hello in Slovenian if you were wondering). I have spent the past five days visiting Ljubljana (Loob – U – Lana) and Bled. I was accompanied by my friend Brian “Big Perm” Ward who hopped a quick flight over from London for a long weekend. Good times were had! This was a great country. Throw Colorado, Switzerland, and Virginia in a hat mix it up and out comes Slovenia. It is proud country full of very friendly locals, rolling green hills, the Julian Alps, deep deep lakes and more than half is covered in forest. I didn’t even have the chance to visit the Karst region in the south, coastal area along the Adriatic, or the Soca Valley. 

While in Ljubljana we stayed in the Hostel Celica which was a converted cold war military prison. A group of slovenian architects and artists staged a protest and used their bodies to prevent the prisons demolition. They were then given the opportunity to redesign the building interior with each "cell" converting to a hostel room. Each had their own style and layout. Very cool! 

In Bled, we got to check out Lake Bled, rented some bikes to visit some small towns in the hills, and hiked in Vintgar Gorge. BP and I also had the opportunity to spend some time visiting with a family in Bled and share some local fares with them. To catch you all up, first are some pictures from Venice, Italy and then Slovenia. Next stop Budapest Hungary. Enjoy!

Canal in Venice. This city was confusing and super hard to navigate but you end up only being lost for a little while. It was part of the experience.

Cool Dead end in Venice.
Grand Canal in Venice.
San Marco Square in Venice.
Closeup of the chapel.

View of old town Ljubljana from the castle on the hill.
View of the "newer" areas of town and the Julian Alps behind.
The area behind the hostel was an old military barracks that was converted into a music, art, and cultural center.
Lake Bled with Bled Castle on the hill.
More Lake Bled, what a cool name:)
Waterfall in Vintgar Gorge. Note the VA like fall colors!
Vintgar Gorge again.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Greek vacation from my vacation....

Hello all, I apologize for being remiss with my blog postings. I know you were all bored without my updates;) Laurna and I have been putting in some serious beach time in Greece for the past two weeks, and I haven't had the chance to put together a post. So here we go, back on track.

First stop was Mykonos. It was a great island! We rented a small atv, which was pretty much one of those powerwheels that some may have had as kids, to get around. The beaches were amazing; blue green crystal clear water and very little crowds. Fall is definitely the best time for that island. White marble streets and white houses with blue trim filled out the downtown area.

From there we headed to Santorini. Santorini is a C shaped cliff island elevated around 500' above the sea. The c shape is due to a volcanic eruption blowing out the island center in the second century BC. Towns line the cliff; some appear to be sliding off. We spent more time relaxing on various beaches. Interesting fact was that they are all made of colored volcanic sands. There was a red, white, and a black beach. We also took a boat ride on a catamaran and swam in an area of the sea heated by the still active volcano.

Our final island stop was a small town called Paleochora on the southwest corner of Crete. I can't recommend that town, really the entire island, enough! The perimeter consists of gorgeous beaches and inland there are 7500' mountain ranges! The mountains are speckled with goats (seriously), tiny mountain communities, and terraced with grapes/olive trees. There are hiking trails and vineyards throughout. Highlight of our trip was hiking along the coastal E4 trail and discovering untouched beaches! A longer stay is definitely warranted!

Following Crete, Laurna and I headed back to Athens and spent a day checking out the sites. Unfortunately, the next morning she flew back to Denver. Now I am pushing on to visit Ljubljana, Bled, and the Julian Alps in Slovenia. But first a pit stop in Venice, Italy. Tons of canal pictures coming soon to a blog post near you.

Here is Greece in pictures:
Sunset on Mykonos .
Shot of the ruins on the island of Delos that we visited. This is the most spiritual place for Greeks.
We stayed in a little bungalow on this beach.
Famous windmills of Mykonos.
Cliffs of Santorini. Note the towns sliding down the hill;)
View of the town of Oia on Santorini.
Laurna enjoying local cuising. Yes there are french fries on that gyro, who woulda thunk it??
Black beach in Santorini.
Cool stone formations from the volcanic activity as seen from our boat ride.
Hair styled by catamaran.
Quick pit stop at the ruins of Knossos in Crete.
Whoa!! Goats all over the highway on a mountain pass heading to Paleochora!
Secret beach we hiked to.
Another cool beach with round stones.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

When in Rome...

Hello from Greece Friends and Family!  Following my trip to Napoli I headed Northwest to Roma (Rome), where I spent the past four days. Rome was everything I expected and more. History is everywhere you look.  Not just your everyday Italian 12th or 13th century cathedral either... I'm talking old here: Pantheon 120AD, Collosseum started in 72AD, St. Peters Basilica consecrated in the 2nd century AD, Sculptures and paintings by Michaelangelo, Roman Forum and Palantine Hill began in the 7th century BC, Popes, etc. This is an amazing city! I had the opportunity to see lost sculptures by Michelangelo, false domes on cathedrals, stand in the foot steps of the pope, see tons of Renaissance artwork in the Vatican museum, learn a good bit of Roman history including the story of the olive oil pipeline they built, view underground burial chambers, and learn the history of Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel Ceiling. It was definitely one of my favorite cities so far. First things first: here are some pictures from Napoli, Pompeii, and then Rome. From there I packed my bags and headed into Greece to meet up with Laurna!! We are currently being beach bum/bunny in Mykonos, Greece with a trip to Santorini up next. Greece pictures to follow soon. For now enjoy!
Best Pizza ever! From Da Michelle in Napoli.
View of the imposing Mount Vesuvius from above Napoli.
Well preserved victim of the Vesuvius eruption in Pompeii. Creepy petrified skull bone!
Pompeii home ruins.
Streets of Pompeii.
Amazing brick oven in a Pompeii bakery.
Nice view; big volcano.
Port town of Procida outside of Napoli.
Colosseum in Rome.
Ruins of Rome's beginnings at Palantine Hill.
Trevi Fountain in Rome.
More ruins.
Guess what this is? Locals call it "the wedding cake."
Look at all the freaking types of tomatos. Market in Campo de Fiori where restaurants come to pick up choice produce.
Vatican Museum. There is so much stuff in here, they had to start using the ceiling space. 
Popes view when he addresses the masses!
Vatican Square, view of St. Peter's Basilica.
Pictures do no justice to the inside of St. Peter's Basilica.
Fountain in Piazza Navona.
 Sculpture in the Michelangelo designed Piazza del Campidoglio
Lost sculpture by Michelangelo. It was found in a cathedral basement with an incomplete head and completed by another artist. He had a different picture of Jesus' head and neck in mind than Michelangelo when he began the sculpture, thus the out of proportion head and mullet.