Saturday, August 11, 2007

Short Day in Florence

I won't complain much, because the bed and pillows are soft, except to say that free, wireless internet should be a given anywhere in the hospitality industry. I'm glad that the Black Berry affords me the ability to post, even if it is short and without photos.

Once we were checked into the hotel and able to rest and clean up a bit, the day got much better. I even found a little bit of time to wash some clothes in my bathroom sink (pretty exciting eh?). Today really reminded me of the two art history classes I've taken. Seeing this art in person is quite different from. The slide presented to the dark room full of students. Florence really is a beautiful place.

Aside from the art, the shopping here is quite amazing as well. All of the names are here. One of the great finds of the day were silk ties for $27.00. At Nordstrom they are close to $100.00.

Of course, I've just scratched the surface of this great place but tomorrow it's off to Rome.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Travel Travel Travel

Just now eating a sandwich we picked up at a train station while the train is parked at a stop. The sleeper train is going to be quite the experience. Quarters are very tight, and though they claim there is air conditioning it is uncomfortably hot. None the less, it is an experience I'm glad to be having. Pictures to follow when I have a real internet connection again.

Itinerary for the day:
Avignon to Vaison la Romaine
Vaison la Romaine to Avignon
Avignon to Nice via train
Nice to Florence via sleeper train

In 8 hours I'll twitter that we've made it to Florence (and I might even get some sleep).

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Vaison la Romaine - day 2

Castle Near Vaison la Romaine


We got to sleep in today - which was really nice. After a lazy morning in the hotel we ventured off toward Vaison la Romaine again today. This time we were much more confident on the roads which afforded us the opportunity to do a bit of exploring. Along the way we saw some beautiful vistas, and found a Michelin rated restaurant. Being in wine country I suppose its requisite that we splurge for an expensive meal, we really did have a lot of fun even if the bill was quite high. Once we got to town today we did a lot of window shopping, which means a lot of walking. There was some cool art, but the prices seemed a bit high for my taste.

We have one more day in the area and then we'll begin our journey to Italy via Nice. The train tickets say that we'll be staying in a train that has beds. I'm sure that will make for nice blogging, though probably from the Black Berry. It's time to turn out the lights, so I'll leave it at that.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Avignon e Vaison la Romaine

We rode the train from Paris to Avignon today. Once checked into our hotel (Best Western, and substantially less than the Paris Marriott) we got back in the car and worked our way to Vaison La Romaine, where we watched a concert given by the University of Utah Singers. This general area, Provence, is very beautiful. It's wine country, and once you get out of the city the roads are lined with vineyards.

The interesting thing about southern France is that the road signs are really hard to see. That is not to say that there aren't signs, because there are. In fact, the signs will tell you just about anywhere you want to go. They won't however, tell you exactly where you presently are, which makes for interesting driving experiences. Maps are hardly helpful when you don't know where you are, and Google Maps either from the web or the Black Berry application aren't too helpful if you don't have some general clue of where you are and where you're going in the first place because of the small screen size. My thought is that the Black Berry needs to include GPS and use the info to place you on a Google map. I am sure others have thought of it, I just think it would be very nice.

In other news, though the Best Western here in Avignon doesn't have down comforters and pillows it does have free (as in BEER) wifi. Could someone please tell me how it is that Best Western gets it and Marriott doesn't? Seriously, down pillows but not free internet. Crappy cotton pillows free internet. And don't tell me that they are using the internet money to buy down pillows and comforters, I simply won't buy that.

I made the mistake this evening of checking my work email. I'm going to have to think for the next couple of days about how I really shouldn't have done that, as now my mind is processing the work issues a bit again. But maybe it's better to be somewhat informed than not.

Anyhow- things are good here. I am happy, relaxing, learning a lot and really enjoying the time I have to see this place. Nothing is on the agenda for tomorrow morning, so I think I'll take the opportunity to sleep in. Hopefully I'll also get around to working on posting a couple of pictures.

Until Then - Aurevior.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Paris Day 2

-Tour of the city by bus in the morning.
-Tour of Versailles on foot in the afternoon.

I learned about the city's train system, not nearly as challenging as in Prague. I learned about french history and the tour guide had a bit to say about American foreign policy.

King Louis' castle is more amazing in person than in the books. I'm still on the Black Berry, hopefully tomorrow the interweb is more affordable.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Prague to Paris

What a crazy day. Wake up call came at 3:45am. We dressed quickly so as to be in the hotel lobby by 4 for a quick sack breakfast, checkout and a ride to the Prague airport at 4:30. We then waited at the airport until our flight to Paris left around 6:30. Either the fruit salad I ate for breakfast or the gummy candies I ate before the flight really didn't sit well with me. I actually had to hurl on the plane. How very embarassing. Thank goodness the flight was short and I didn't get ill until the end.

Once in Paris, my aunt and I took off to go see some of the Louvre. What an awesome trip that was. We really only looked at early Italian and French renissance paintings, but it was a real blast. Later in the day I learned that if one wanted to see every piece in the Louvre and spend 20 seconds on each view, it would take 2.5 months to complete the project. It was super cool to see pieces of art that I studied in high school and at the university.

To wrap up the evening we took a night bus tour of Paris. It was spectacular and beautiful.

Sorry for the shortness, and no pics, but I refuse to spend $30/night on internet; which means the Black Berry has to do, but one can only do the thumb keyboard for so long.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Seeing the Czech Country

As I mentioned yesterday, it was goog to get out of the main city and see what Czech life is like when you're not in the tourist center. We spent the afternoon driving around little villages as we drove form Plzen to Prague via Karlstejn. My observation is that communism has really left its mark on the people. Though they are free, the haven't quickly forgotten how things were.

Back in Prague tonight, we ate again at that great cafe where with the live jazz.

I'm writing from the black berry tonight as I am supposed to be sleeping. Our flight to Paris requires that we be at the airport by 5am. Hopefully there will be more time for pictures and blogging tomorrow evening.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

On the way to Plzen

Czech-Village


I'll keep it short tonight. The public transit situation in the Czech Republic is VERY interesting. It is deserving of its own little story which I really don't have a lot of time for right now. We made the journey from Prague to Plzen via train today and as I mentioned, it was quite the experience. I now know what it is like to be in a place where no one speaks your language and you have no understanding of what is going on around you. Thank goodness we made it to Plzen intact.

The Czech countryside is beautiful. It is nice (and frightening) to get out of the way of the tourist traps. Out here in the country, one really begins to feel what the people and place are really about (and the price of food and shelter comes WAY down).

Last night I didn't wake up at all. Though I was still really tired this afternoon. Thank goodness for naps. All is well.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Prague

Prague Castle Cathedral


Today we took an official tour of the city of Prague. It mostly focused on the Prague castle and the surrounding “lesser town”. It is stunning and humbling to stand next to buildings that are so very old. Our guide informed us that the cathedral next to the Prague castle was under construction for 600 years. While on the walking tour I came to the conclusion that my desk job is far too comfortable. There used to be a time when being on my feet that long wouldn’t have tired me at all. However, now I am thinking that I really need to get on that bicycle a lot more when I get home. Late 20’s is too early to be feeling old.

In other news, the food scene has been quite good. Breakfast provided by the hotel was more that adequate, we had a nice mid-afternoon snack provided by the mini-bar in our room and dinner was a fantastic traditional Czech meal eaten in an outdoor street café. The meal itself was roast beef served in gravy with dumplings. It was full of flavor, and very hearty. An additional plus is that there was live jazz music provided by the café: saxophone, piano and bass. It was a super classy experience. Yep, I’m a freak for that sort of thing.

The city of Prague is a thriving place, a beautiful city full of history and charm. Seeing people everywhere tends to make places feel more inviting and safe (though safe is a relative word). I’m convinced that I could spend several hours sitting at a table in a street café just watching people do what they do. Though I am sure that life here is busy and frantic at times, it seems to be just a tad slower, but none the less classy.

I’m still fighting the battle with time zones. My body wanted to be up and running at 3am this morning, and I was dead tired by 3pm. It is now bedtime, but I’m not feeling much like sleep. I hear this gets better with time.

Lots of pictures have been taken, but I’m not a big fan of photo editing on the laptop. I just can’t trust what I see on this LCD screen. Needless to say, there will be a lot of fun in editing trip photos upon my return.

"Lesser Town"

Thursday, August 02, 2007

We Made It

Prague


Yep, after many hours on the airplane and waiting in Airports we made it to Prague. All is happy and well. The internet here at this particular hotel isn't where I think internet should be for this day and age, but I'll survive.

Grandpa and I took a whole bunch of pictures this afternoon. I'll have a lot to share when I get around to the processing. In the mean time, I just wanted to get something up here noting that we've arrived and are well.

Now just to get over the jet lag.