My European Vacation-top of the waves observations:

My family and I just returned from a 12 day stay in Europe.  We spent 8 days in Italy and  5 days in Paris.  It was absolutely lovely.  Here are some of my top  of the wave observations, which are really just my personal opinion.  You might feel completely different.

We got back on Sunday which made our trip just two days short of two weeks.  I enjoyed Italy and Paris immensely.  We landed in Venice and stayed there two days then bused over to Florence and stayed there two days.  After that,  it was onto Pisa/Assisi for a brief stop before we made way for Rome where we stayed three days.  Here are my top of the waves observations about each country:
In Venice the canals are so charming.  How refreshing to be somewhere without cars whizzing by.  Instead, boats are the auto of choice and necessity.  Lovely, dreamy and resorty all rolled into one.
gondola
Gondola rides: What was once a very romantic thing to do while in Venice, has now turned out to be one of the biggest rip offs in the North of Italy.  It is astronomical to ride one…like 65 euros and up per person.  So what I chose to do instead is stand on the bridges and watch other people (suckers!) float by, a little lighter in their pockets.  Honestly, to see one float  by is sufficient for me.  It’s all so gimmicky.
In my opinion, the junk vendors spoil the beauty of Europe.  The African and Indian sellers are at every well known attraction/monument hawking their cheap, imported crap where they know tourists will be flocking.  It drives me crazy and makes me want to hit them. I will never look at a red rose again with the same level of admiration as I did before I set foot in Venice.
In Italy (and other parts of Europe possibly-I don’t know) the people are very laid back and restaurateurs don’t look at customers the same way the restaurant owners here in the states do.  One evening in Venice, we tried to get a table at a restaurant that clearly had enough tables to accommodate us, but they flat out refused to seat us and discouraged us from even having a hope of getting a table.  They simply didn’t want our business.  I was amazed, and a bit pissed.  I guess we were too fat for their liking or possibly they just didn’t feel like serving us….maybe laziness overcame them.
I love the Italian language.  It sounds so lovely.  My favorite word is “Allora” which simply means “and so” or “therefore”.  Everyone says it…and it sounds so pretty….”Allora.”  Something you say mid sigh when you have nothing else to say.
allora
The leaning Tower of Pisa was breathtaking.  It is this white marble cockeyed tower that is so beautiful and set against the blue skies, it is captivating.
leaning.tower
Florence is beautiful….it’s a Medieval little New York City where Vespas and other scooters replace yellow taxi cabs.  Everyone drives a scooter.  I’ve never seen so many in all my life.  The driving is speedy and reckless and I’m sure hospital emergency rooms treat at least a few people per week that come in bloody and flattened with a tire stripe on their forehead.  🙂
scooters
The Statue of David is beyond beautiful.  That 17′ tall marble rendition of a young Biblical king brought my big husband to tears.  I turned around and just said to him, “Isn’t David just so beautiful?” and with tears visible in his eyes, he could barely mutter, “Absolutely.”  Lol…Larry brought to tears over Michaelangelo’s masterpiece.  I love it.   Yes, there IS a God…lol.
David
Kabobs are the Middle Eastern imported Italian junk food version of gyros.  Larry couldn’t get enough of them.  (not me. “Hello, where can I find some Gelato?”)
Bidets.  Bidets are EVERYTHING they are cracked up to be and more.  I figured them out (they’ve always been a bit of an enigma to me) and told all my kids how to use it and after their own experience with one, they reported to me we need to call Dave our plummer and have him install one in our house at once after we get home.  Seriously, they are awesome.  And I DO want one.  🙂
bidet
I don’t like Italian coffee.  It’s little 2 oz shots of too hot,  too strong coffee with no milk or sugar.  I searched high and low and rejoiced in the rare times I found a place that served Cafe Americane.  Cappuccino is okay with lots of milk and sugar.  Next to my dog, I missed my coffee.
Speaking of dogs, in Italy and France every good restaurant has one and it is out in the open, seen, slobbering and mingling with the customers.  I kind of like that.
Restaurant.dog
Tuscany has lovely landscapes dotted with wild, red poppies, rose crops and colorful homes painted hues of  watermelon, turquoise and taxi cab yellow among others.
Did you know Italian roosters say “Kee Kee da Kee,” quite different from our American ones that shout, “Cock a Doodle Doo?”  It’s true. 🙂
rooster
Italian men are the most beautiful creatures on earth.   Liquid brown eyes and chiseled features, holy moley. “Buongiorno, handsome!”
Gelato is one of the most delicious things I’ve ever tasted.  My daughter and I were  addicted and tried as many flavors as we could pack into 3 days in Rome.
gellato
I love how the Italians serve water at the table in pretty decanters.  This is something I want to adopt here at home.
Paris.table
Italian.table
Wine is a standard with every meal.  I haven’t been that consistently buzzed on wine in years, if ever in my life.
Art is everywhere in Paris and Italy.  Remember to always look up because some of the best art might be lurking just above your head.
louvre.ceiling
Paris:
What I didn’t like:
 
Air conditioning is pretty crappy everywhere in Paris.
No ice.
No refills on coffee unless you pay (in Italy, too)  Guess they don’t know the meaning of ‘coffee clutch.’
What I liked:
 
The Eiffel tower is actually dark tan (I thought it was grey)  ((Maybe that’s because I have a black and white large canvas photo of it on my wall))
brn.eiffel
The Paris Metro is kick ass efficient.
Did you know Claude Monet, Impressionist painter of haystacks, cathedrals and lily pads actually painted turkeys?  I saw his turkey painting at the Musee d’Orsay in Paris.  Here’s a photo of it.
Monet.turkeys
The city wasn’t any dirtier than any other city I’ve been too….in fact, it might be cleaner.
Some French men make me weak in the knees.  I did see a few that were up to the caliber in good looks as some Italian men I had spotted, our Louvre tour guide was one of them.  You can see him here. Lol
French.tourguide
The Pere La Chaise cemetery is an oddly amazingly good time.  My kids LOVED it-got to visit Jim Morrison’s grave, and roam around taking cool pictures of some of the most beautiful tombstones and mausoleums you’d find anywhere.
It’s France, what’s not to love?  C’est Bon!
What lessons I learned on this trip:
Screw fashion-Bring your most comfortable (but preferably, not white) walking gymmies, and forfeit sore feet.  I brought four pairs of  cute, fashionable shoes and they all hurt my feet and left me cursing my idiocy and vanity.  I was aching for my black Nikes.  Oh. So. Bad.
Bring less stuff.  Even though I took the advice from seasoned travelers, and watched all the YouTube videos I could find on packing light for Europe, I still brought too much.  The crappiest thing was I purchased ‘carry on’s’, with every intention of ‘carrying them on’ the plane to avoid lost luggage and the damn bags exceeded the European airlines limits on carry on size and we still had to check our bags.  Fortunately, we all got our luggage there  with us on the way to Europe, but Jeff’s bag was not put on the plane in Paris for the trip back and ended up having an extra two day holiday in the city of love without us.  Lost luggage sucks.
Bring an umbrella and a short trench coat.
 If you get the chance, please do Italy and France.  It’s lovely.
Advertisements

5 thoughts on “My European Vacation-top of the waves observations:

  1. Thanks for taking me along on your trip. I felt like I was right there with you. Love the pictures, and how you capture the essence of the places you visited. Glad to have you back home!

  2. loved travelling along with you .. we went a ba-jillion years ago .. and it brought back great memories. the ‘romantic’ gondala rides were expensive then too! charming little pickpocket children were in abundance. (i wore my pennies in a strap-on pouch under my clothes .. and enjoyed watching ‘the show’ of those who kept their lira in their hip pockets!

    The Tower of Pisa looks like a lovely ‘wedding cake’! Enjoyed the Lourvre in Paris and little boulangeries! Was surprized at that time when i asked for PEANUT BUTTER .. in smaller towns in France .. they had no idea what i was talking about .. and thought it sounded quite terrible-tasting when i explained how it was made!

    I so agree with your assessment on most European MEN! AMEN!!!!

    oh my! and the ART .. was indeed emotional!

    And i remember the awful awufully-strong coffee .. and we were surprized to find out that if we purchased a cup … we had to pay EXTRA if we chose to ‘sit down’ and drink it!!

    I think our BIGGEST surprize was when we took an over-night train and there were ‘bunk’ beds in our little postage-stampe-size compartment. We, of course, took the lower bunks only to be surprized by quite an irate conductor, who, in the middle of the night arrived with another couple (strangers to us of course) .. and yelled at us that we were in THEIR beds. (we learned later that if you are FIRST .. you are supposed to take the upper beds!) Shoot .. i never dreamed we’d be having company!

    OHH .. and don’t get me started on a couple ‘american’ words

    (HINT: one started with “F” and the other one was YOU!) .. i taught a mean, rude man at an italian flea market that shuffled his hands at me and snarled: “AMERICAN .. GO BYE-BYE!!!!”

    Up to that point, i had bent over backwards to NOT be “The Ugly American”! Of course, looking back at it .. i laugh and it is one of the funniest memories i brought home with me! (Hank actually picked me 6 inches off the ground by the scruff of my jacket and carried me away as he whispered in my ear:
    “italy .. mafia”)

    I did so enjoy the history and the beauty of REALLY OLDE churches, museums, homes and other buildings.

    I suppose, like visitors from other countries coming to America for the first time .. they saw our Good and Bad too!

    glad you have this european memory!

    xo, frannie

  3. Em, loved seeing your family vacation, what a dream come true for you and what wonderful memories with your children. Absolutely Loved it! xxoo

  4. Hi Emily,
    I really enjoyed following you on your vacation to Europe. The pictures were fabulous. Especially, the one of David.. lol That’s what all men should look like.. Especially, the ones that want model material.. Hopefully, one day I will get there..

    Maria

  5. Thanks for sharing your experience. I feel like I was there too now! You have such a gift for writing. I look forward to reading all your blogs!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s