Saturday, December 20, 2008

Barcelona


Barcelona, Spain was the last city we visited in Europe. We spent three days in Barcelona and left wishing we had more time to explore. It is a beautiful and vibrant city.

Sagrada Familia, the immense but still unfinished church designed by Barcelona's most famous architect Antoni Gaudi. It has been under construction since 1882.


Scaffolding shows where they are still working on the church.
Shopping for postcards
Fruit in La Boqueria. A beautiful market just off La Rambla
Another picture from La Boqueria.

Hung checking out the selection of soccer jerseys. Unfortunately, FC Barcelona was playing an away game while we were in town. We have yet to see a soccer match in Europe.Walking La Rambla

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Venice






Venice: Without a doubt, the most romantic city on earth. Hung and I arrived by train, bought a 72 hour public transit pass and set out to experience the magic of Venice.

A pretty canal
Hung listening to a Rick Steve's Audio Podcast

The Clock Tower in Piazza San Marco (St. Mark's Square)

Piazza San Marco--A pigeon actually landed on my shoulder--Luckily, Hung saved me.
Hung crossing the bridge in front of The Doge's Palace

Who needs rose colored glasses when you've got rose colored street lights!

Gondolas

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Firenze Update Continued

Ok, we've unpacked the suitcases, taken care of the bills, and run our errands; it is now time for me to finish my updates.

During my last Europe update, I told you about our early morning arrival in Florence. Unable to check in at the hotel, we stored our big suitcases at the hotel and set out in search of a laundromat. The laundry was finished by 9 am, so we dropped our sack of clean clothes off at the hotel and went in search of food and entertainment. Food was easy to find, every fifth store front was a cafe. So we popped into one and enjoyed strong espresso and delicious pastry. When you go into a cafe in Europe, you will notice that there are two prices for everything. One price is the to-go price and the other higher price is the price to sit at a table and eat your food. I guess this system makes sense, pay for what you use--chair, table, space. Since we didn't have anyplace to go, we opted to pay the higher price and enjoy sitting for a few minutes.

At the laundromat


Fueled up, we were off. At 9:30 in the morning, the city seemed to be waking up. Grates were starting to be pushed back from store fronts, street cleaners were scrubbing the streets, and people were briskly walking in every direction.

A Jar Of Nutella Bigger Than My Head!!



We wandered the winding streets for the next few hours, anxious to unpack our bags and pull out the warmer clothes. It was starting to get cold.

Finally at noon, we checked in. That's when the envitable happened....the flu hit. Hung looked pale, had a chill he couldn't shake and only wanted to sleep. I ran to our zip lock full of medicine, grabbed some Theraflu, and crossed my fingers that we could knock this flu out quickly. For the rest of the day, Hung slept while I read a book. The next morning, the flu was gone and Hung was ready to get out there and see the city. Phew!

Picture of Florence from our hotel room--Not a bad view for a 3 star hotel near the train station!



We spent our day touring the Uffizi Gallery, crossing the Ponte Vecchio, and enjoying Tuscan food and wine.

Hallway in the Uffizi Gallery

A nice glass of Chianti

Tasted so good...our half litre was gone too quickly.
A very little car parked on the sidewalk--makes the mini look like a beast.

-amb

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

After 29 Days on the road...There is no place like home

HOME! I didn't know how much I missed our home until we walked in the front door this evening. Traveling and seeing new places is exciting and wonderful but the comforting familiarity of home can't be found any where but here.

Our flight home from Frankfurt was pretty uneventful. We left Frankfurt at 11:40 am and landed in Charlotte at 3:30 pm--with the time change 9 hours on the plane. Our Airbus 330 was equipped with on demand t.v. and movies, so I spent the majority of my time catching up on box office bombs. I had been dreading the long flight but it went by pretty quickly. I'm surprised we weren't stopped for extra questioning at customs, because I was down right giddy about being on American soil. Luckily, my extreme exuberance didn't set off any alarm bells and we were through customs and baggage claim in record time. Waiting for us as we exited the terminal was our wonderful friend Ken, who had generously offered to pick us up.

Picture from a couple years ago--Ken, Hung's sister Carol and us.



In the last few hours, I've sorted through our box of mail, been to the grocery store and started cooking a beef stew. The stew will need to simmer for the next several hours but I figured it will be ready when our jet lagged bodies tell us it is time to eat. Besides the house smells better when something is cooking. While I was cooking, Hung offered to represent us at our annual home owners meeting which was held tonight. I had wanted to go and see our neighbors but had spent so much time running around that I was still wearing my travel clothes. I figured nobody needed to see the grudgy road warrior.

Lots of updates are overdue. But I'll save those until tomorrow.