Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Our Honeymoon (with video)

Beers in Rome
Since it's Valentine's Day, the day of looove, I thought I'd do a little recap of our honeymoon in Europe (complete with lots of photos). I blogged all about it the whole way, so for anyone who followed along then, this might be a bit repetitive. I just thought it would be nice to remember it all though, it was definitely one of those once in a lifetime experience that I am incredibly grateful for. I'm also so glad I got to share all the experiences with Matt, we had so much fun together.

The trip started out great with an upgrade to first class because they heard we were on our honeymoon, then got even better when the flight attendant continuously topped up our champagne - also because it was our honeymoon. I didn't realize how much champagne I had drunk until I got up to go to the bathroom and felt a little wobbly.

Things took a turn for the worse when we landed in Rome exhausted, hungry, a little hungover, and ready to get to our hostel. I had arranged with the hostel for them to pick us up at the airport and bring us there, but unfortunately, we weren't able to meet the guy who was waiting for us. We arrived at the baggage claim and once everyone else had left with their baggage, we realized ours wasn't coming. Which started us on a path of everything going wrong. The iPad died, and the charger was in the suitcases that didn't show up, so we couldn't get a hold of the hostel. The pay phones wouldn't work. After a very long ordeal we got to the lost baggage claim, where they told us they didn't know where our baggage was and had no way of finding out where it was or when it would come. Long story short, we paid for an expensive hotel near the airport late that night, and my bag came the next day, but Matt's didn't. It turns out that both our bags didn't get loaded on in Vancouver, and then Matt's didn't get loaded on in London either. We eventually got both bags and got everything sorted out, and mmade our way to our hostel, but it was all extremely frustrating and exhausting.

The two brothers who owned the hostel in Rome were super friendly and showed us around Rome. The city itself wasn't our favourite, but we loved all the amazing historical sites in Rome. It was incredible walking in the Colosseum. In the Roman Forum, we would run from shaded spot to shaded spot because of the sweltering heat, and in the shade would read on the iPad about the historical buildings we were looking at. We both love that kind of stuff and found it so interesting. 

The Colosseum
St. Peter's Basilica was amazing, and the wait to get in wasn't bad as it was the perfect amount of time to pray a rosary for our families back home.

One other awesome moment in Rome was when we took the black and white photo above. We were sitting in a square, drinking our beers, and beside us was this ancient building that was so full of history. I remember us marveling at the fact that we were able to sit and drink beers next to something so incredibly old. We talked about how amazing traveling is, and how fortunate we were to be in Rome with all it's history.

You may notice two trends as you read through this post. Everywhere we go, we have beers and we go into churches. Priorities :)

Next, we went to Florence. In opposition to Rome's noisy and dirty streets, Florence had much more charm. We camped in a tent on a hill that overlooked the city (with the most amazing view). This campsite was one of our favourite places of everywhere we stayed. Excluding, of course, the fact that there was the most violent thunderstorm I've ever experienced the first night we were in the tent. The tents were large and had a bunk bed, so we were able to huddle/"sleep" on the bottom bunk, safe from the rain and hail making its way into the tent. All part of the adventure!

So uncooperative.
This pizza was AMAZING. I still remember the way it tasted...
We rode bikes through the city, seeing the sites and making sure to dodge the crazy Italian drivers in the narrow streets. 

We sipped cappuccinos (plural, for me) and had beers in the middle of the day. Ah, this is making me jealous of my past self.

The Duomo was breathtaking.
From Florence, we took a day trip to Pisa, because we had to see the leaning tower of course. The Baptistry there was actually a highlight. Also, the tower was seriously leaning! More than the photos show! We also got the opportunity to go to mass in Pisa, as the church bells rang to signify mass starting just as we walked past the church.

Rebel cause I wasn't allowed on the grass (I wasn't the only rebel though).

Matt's Uncle told us we had to drink steins of beer here, the same place he drank them 25 years earlier!
Leaving Florence to catch our bus at something crazy like 5:30 am.
Assisi was the next city we visited and was our favourite city in Italy. The city itself had me freaking out with excitement over all the quaintness and beauty of the narrow streets that trailed their way up the hill, little shops, and a beautiful view of the countryside.

The Church of St. Francis was one of the highlights of the trip. The bottom floor of the church was a very simple chapel, in the spirit of the Franciscans. St. Francis' is buried there, and there were also various articles of his from when he was alive. Everyone was so reverent, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to be able to say a little prayer in the small chapel.

Assisi was definitely a highlight. It was a wonderful religious experience to be in the city where such an amazing saint came from, and to be in the church he was buried in.

So by this time in the trip, Matt and I were still having an amazing time but were starting to feel pretty exhausted. Life had been crazy with no down time for a while. Wedding planning and festivities were a great time but exhausting, and the wedding day (which was THE BEST) was also obviously very go-go-go. We had an open house to see everyone at Gramma and Papa's the next day, and if I remember correctly we left for Europe the day after that! Backpacking is definitely not the same as just lying on the beach in Mexico. It's full of adventure but not so full of relaxation. So, by this time in the trip, we were ready to spend some time relaxing on a beach! Based on a recommendation from a friend, we chose the island of Ischia, which is a small island off the coast of Naples.

The ocean is my happy place!
To save a bit of money, we decided to book a hostel where we'd be sharing a room with 16 people, but it was big and the beds were pretty spread out. We met really awesome people at the hostel and had a great time with everyone! We had great late night conversations (over beers) with a group of German guys, met a father and daughter traveling from Norway, had a chef from - I want to say Japan - cook us the most delicious meal, and made many other friends. Honestly, the week in Ischia was amazing. We swam in the ocean every day, made our meals at the hostel, joked around with each other and just had a great time.

One crazy thing that happened was when the Italian guy (Lorenzo was his name) who owned the hostel said he would drive us all to the beach for a bonfire. We got outside and he said, "Okay everyone hop in!" We did. It was a tiny little van and thirteen of us squished inside it! Everyone was so crammed in there that a window popped out! Also, those Italians are crazy drivers. Skilled, but crazy.

Once our week in paradise was over, we took the ferry to Naples. We didn't get the best impression of Naples (from what we saw it mostly seemed sketchy and dirty), and Pompeii was one of the places we wanted to see most in Italy, so we took a day trip to Pompeii. It's impossible to feel the weight of what happened there, but the way the buildings the people lived in were preserved was unreal. We weren't expecting it to be so big, I think I was more expecting a handful of buildings as opposed to the city that it was. There were carvings (graffiti in a sense) on the walls of a brothel, a message written on a tombstone in a cemetery, lavish houses of the rich who lived in Pompeii when the volcano erupted. So unreal.

Strolling through the streets of Pompeii.
After our day in Pompeii we headed back to Naples, and at this point we felt like it was time to move on from Italy. This was a bit of a lull in the trip where we were missing home a bit and were feeling a bit run down. We talked about going home early at one point! Oh my gosh. We are so glad we didn't. The next country we decided on was Poland, and so flew off to Krakow. We were ecstatic when our bags were where they were supposed to be on the other end of the flight!

Wawel Castle in Krakow
Krakow was our favourite city out of everyone we visited. We found the people in Poland to be significantly friendlier and more polite than the people in Italy. The change was very noticeable. It felt like once we arrived in Poland, our trip had been refreshed and the bed bug ordeal had been left behind.

One of the best memories of the trip was something so simple. One evening in Krakow we went walking in the main square and sat down at an outdoor restaurant where a live band was playing. The joy of the music was so infectious, and we ordered three different kinds of perogies, all of which were delicious. We sat there with beers and perogies, listening to the music and talking. I want to remember it forever. Afterward, we walked through the square, looking at the different vendors' shops and just enjoying each others company.

Beers in Poland!
We also went to Auswitch for a day. It was a very difficult experience, it is so heartbreaking to see what the people in the concentration camps went through. We were really glad we went, even though it was hard to experience. It is seriously unfathomable that humans could put other humans through those atrocities.

After Poland, we flew to Dusseldorf, Germany. Dusseldorf is near the place in Germany that my ancestors live! The way the countries in Europe differ from each other is really neat to see. Germany and Italy, in regards to efficiency and general organization, were opposite in our experience.

We watched the sunset sitting on a balcony type thing that overlooked the Rhine River (we climbed over the railing. Other people were doing it so we thought it'd be okay if we did too. It was very romantic, except for how Matt kept making jokes about there being no "rhine or reason" to anything we were doing.....

Next, we went to Belgium, and what stood out to us there was the beauty of the architecture. We only had a couple days in Belgium but enjoyed touring around Brussels and Antwerp. In Brussels we decided to wear our embarrassing tourist shirts that we had brought from home, just to be weirdos.

We went from Belgium to London. Going to London was a dream come true for me! I have read so many books that took place in England and am so interested in British history. I would imagine the characters from my books on the streets, or the history coming alive, and I was like a super excited kid. Also - Harry Potter.

Big Ben!
I have read a whole bunch of books about the British nobility, so I really wanted to tour the Tower of London. I was so excited to be in a place where so many historical events took place and so many historical figures would have been in! We saw the place St. Thomas Moore and Anne Boleyn were beheaded, and carvings of prisoners on the cell walls. Being in England was seriously a dream come true. I loved it!

We went to visit the British Museum on one really rainy day. We walked everywhere in London because the tube was so expensive and we would always see such amazing sites on our way to different places. Both of us are really interested in history, so we got a lot out of the museum. Man, no museum I have ever been to can come close to that one. It is seriously impressive.

Tower of London. Matt's beard is growing, and he may or may not be getting tired of taking pictures with me...
It was the trip of a lifetime and I am so grateful to God for such an amazing opportunity. A couple weeks after getting home we found out we were pregnant with little Rosie, and with that, we were on to the next adventure!

Two losers in Brussels.

To watch our honeymoon video on youtube, click here.

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