So it’s been a little while since we’ve updated and we know you’ve been sitting on pins and needles waiting to hear from us. Well get ready to live because a lot can happen in a little less than a week!
Monday, July 28th: Today was our last day in Paris and I think that’s where we left you hanging… We did hang out with our friends from A&M – Keith, Jordan and Eduardo. We met them at a metro station and walked to Montmarte/Sacre Coure where we overlooked the entire city! It was a great way to say goodbye to one of the greatest cities ever.
We went inside the church there and Callie got in trouble for not having her shoulders covered. The nice little man at the entrance gave her his sweater to wear while she walked around – it was a double edged sword because she had to wear the sweater inside a building that was at least 95 degrees. Anyways, the church was both very old and beautiful.
After this, we all split and the two of us went shopping and bought a couple of things. We met back up with our A&M friends at the Louvre and were supposed to go grab a bite to eat, but we were just too tired. We decided to go back to the hotel to take a nap and said to meet back up at the Eiffel Tower around 10:15 that night. After our nap, we met up with some of our classmates and went to the store to grab some wine, bread and cheese because we are pretty much French by this point. We all headed over to the Eiffel Tower as it started to rain. We got there right as the lights started flashing. We sat on a bench underneath a tree and drank wine and ate bread, but the cheese was nasty. We offered it to a homeless man, but even he refused. Our A&M friends never showed, and we found out later that they didn’t come because it was raining – we say, you’re not hardcore unless you live hardcore. We walked across the street to get some crepes and met another one of our classmates there. We all just sat around laughing in the rain – this time was one of the major highlights of our trip so far. Our friend Preston wanted to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower and offered to pay for our tickets if we went with him and we definitely never turn down free stuff! So the three of us enjoyed a view from the 2nd floor (the 3rd floor was closed) and it was incredible! Just seeing that view really confirmed that we could live here, no problem.
Tuesday, July 29th: We woke up at the crack of dawn and got on a bus headed for the train station. It took a total of 8 hours to get from Paris to Munich, but it didn’t feel that long so that’s a plus. On the train we played a game where one of our friends, Chris, picked an animal and we all asked yes or no questions to figure out what it was. Sounds a little childish, but those are the best games. We all laughed more than we have this entire trip and obviously had a great time! A bus picked us up at the train station in Munich and brought us to A&O hostel. It’s very nice, but no A/C. We took a 2 hour bus tour of the city, but we were all pretty tired and didn’t pay too much attention. The bus dropped us off at a beergarden and we had dinner and beer. When in Germany, do as the Germans do! The place was packed; there had to have been at least 1,000 people there. It was an outdoor venue filled with wooden picnic tables, and lots and lots of people!
Wednesday, July 30th: We woke up very early this morning and started our day off with a tour of the BMW plant. We had the cutest little German man as our guide! He is so proud to be German and to work for BMW. This visit was a lot more interesting than the Peugeot tour. The group was either super hungover or tired (we fell under this category) so Dr. D’Souza cancelled our visit to the U.S. Consulate which was scheduled for that afternoon. We came home and took a nap, studied for a little bit and then walked to Subway (just like the one in the states) with our friend Kelly for the sub of the day, turkey! We rode the tram to the center of the city and shopped for a while. Then we came back to the hostel and studied/didn’t really study for our test tomorrow. Our group is just really fun to hang out with and we are glad that the Lord has given us the opportunity to share a little bit of our hearts with them.
Thursday, July 31st: Today was a fun day! Today was also our friend Maegan’s birthday (We were able to call her and leave a fun birthday message) – Happy birthday Maegan! Anyways, we woke up around 8:30 this morning grabbed a bite to eat downstairs and headed down the street for a visit to Ernst & Young. This was the nicest corporate visit we have been to! We arrived to bottles of coke and “coke light”, cookies, coffee, and tea. They were speaking in terms that the two of us didn’t really relate to and it translated into gibberish. All of the speakers were some of the nicest people we have met on our trip and we were thankful for that. After their presentation, they treated us to lunch. We’re not talking the equivalent of Jason’s Deli boxed lunches, we are talking beef, chicken, cheese sticks, stuffed jalapenos, eggrolls, and much more! It was such a treat! After we left Ernst & Young, we had 1 hour to prepare for our final exam. It was probably one of the hardest exams we’ve ever taken in our college career, but we finished and later found out that we each got an “A”. Be proud mom and dad, be proud. We went back to our room to pack for our trip to Italy and headed for the train station.
Friday, August 1st: We were awakened by the conductor this morning at 5:45 and she informed us that we would be in Florence in 30 minutes. We had some time to kill before we were able to check into our bed and breakfast so we got some breakfast at the train station and played cards – gin if you were wondering. We walked to our B&B where we were greeted by Matteo and Alessio, the two owners of Antica Posta B&B. Originally, our room wasn’t going to be ready until 11:00 but they informed us that our room was already prepared for us – what a blessing! The place was super cute and very nice! We definitely recommend Antica Posta B&B if you ever visit Florence!
We showered and headed out to explore and ended up a little lost – but what’s an exploration without getting lost? We ended up seeing everything we wanted to see and the city is just beautiful! We saw Piazza Pitti, Ponte Vecchio, Galleria Degli Uifizi, Piazza Della Signoria and more! We walked for about 5 hours, but it was fun and definitely worth it.
We treated ourselves to a cab ride back to the B&B. We napped for a couple of hours and then got ready to go out. We took a 30 minute bus ride to Piazzale Michelangelo. It is the highest point in Florence and overlooks the entire city! We were able to see the view as the sun was setting and it was gorgeous!
We hit up some shady folks for some street side souveniers and met a friend, Mustafa. We were his “sisters” and for his sisters, he gives good deals! After we got our gifts, we walked over to “Ristorante Michelangelo” where we enjoyed pesto pasta, bruschetta and gelatto as we looked over the city. Life in Florence is slow paced and low key and we definitely enjoyed it.
Saturday, August 2nd: We woke up at around 11 this morning and stayed in our room for a little bit while we added up how much money we have spent so far. We’ll just go ahead and keep that number to ourselves… In the words of Callie, “Realizing how poverty is looming in your future is not a fun way to start your day.” We walked to the train station knowing that our day was only going to get better! We stopped at an internet cafe on the way to e-mail our parents telling them we loved them and asking if they could transfer a couple hundred into our bank accounts – we still haven’t heard back – interesting… they responded so fast to our previous e-mails! After this, we walked around for a few hours and realized we had seen all that we knew there was to see. We got on a bus to go back to the Michelangelo look-out, but ended up riding for an hour before anything started to look familiar; we never made it to Michelangelo. We got off at the main train station and walked back to the B&B to shower and get ready for dinner. A friend of Brittany’s used to live in Florence and shared with us a couple of her favorite restaurants in the city. Callie decided to do something different with her hair. She had seen an ad earlier in the day of a little girl with short, very curly hair, and she decided that she wanted to see if she could make her hair look like that – Not one of the best ideas she’s ever had…
While Callie was fixing the worst at home perm remedy ever, Brittany voiced that she was really craving Mexican food. Callie said, “Brittany, we are in Italy, I’m pretty sure we won’t find any Mexican food…” End of story… so we thought. So we took a cab to a little Piazza and looked at some handcrafted artwork before we ventured out to find one of the restaurants Brittany’s friend suggested. We got some very vague directions and just started walking. We turned down a random street and saw some bright lights and heard a lot of noise. We get closer and realize, IT’S A MEXICAN RESTAURANT! The restaurant is called Tijuana and it was the best Mexican food we have ever experienced! Tex-Mex has nothing on Tijuana in Florence! We definitely recommend this restaurant if you’re ever in Florence! We had strawberry margaritas, chips and salsa and guacamole, and chicken enchiladas and a chicken burrito – is your mouth watering yet? The food definitely had an Italian touch to it and it was amazing! A guy named John from New Zealand asked Callie to take a picture of him and his friend (a local). John was old and Leo was a straight-up creeper so we had to cut the conversation short and said it was nice to meet them and to have a good night.
Sunday, August 3rd: We are sad to say farewell to Florence today. This is officially our second favorite city we have been to. We woke up at 7:00 in order to catch our train at 8:30. Our train ride was just under 2 hours, the shortest trip we’ve had so far. We’ve gotten a lot of feedback from friends and family about the number of guys we’ve met, and questions like “Where are all of the girls over there?” Well, we met our first girl-friend today and her name is Sarah. She is from New Zealand (she doesn’t know John) and has been traveling all over Europe for the past 6 months! She was very nice and we were glad to meet her. We arrived in Rome, but Rome was not the final destination for our train. We’ve learned that the train stops for about 2 minutes, and 2 minutes only – they really don’t care who you are. So we had a short amount of time to get off and everyone was crowding the aisle leaving us no way to get out our seats and off the train. Callie said “The next break I see, I’m just going to push you into the aisle so we can get out.” Sounds like a great plan. The break in the line is upon us and Callie pushes Brittany, just to pull her back very quickly and said, “You can’t cut in front of a nun!” Brittany is thinking, sure you can – you snooze, you lose. We let her pass and quickly found another break and cut in front of Joe Shmo and were safely off the train. Once we arrived to the train station, we waited in line for about an hour to reserve our seats back to Munich. Apparently, if your train has to go through a country not selected on your Eurail pass, you have to pay a pretty penny. The countries selected on your Eurail pass must be bordering countries and we selected France, Spain, Germany and Italy. Done. Well Italy doesn’t touch Germany (Switzerland and Austria decided to squeeze their way in there, rude) so we had to pay 78€ to get back to Munich. If you are a math whiz and have been keeping up with the value of the U.S. dollar, you just realized that we paid close to $120 to get back to Munich. It was a frustrating experience, but there is a positive in every situation. The lady who booked our seats from Munich to Florence never asked to see our passes and assumed we had a global pass (allowing you to travel to any European country) and the conductor didn’t catch it, so we saved 60€ on our way to Florence because we should have been charged then too. After the drama, we arrived at our B&B known as “Alice in Wonderland” around 12:15. We said we would arrive around 11 when we booked our room, and when we finally arrived, no one was here. Callie is smart and looked underneath a potted plant for a key – BINGO! She opened the door and yelled for someone, but no one was there. She found fruit-filled croissants, made a mad dash for them, and ran back to the door step and closed the door. We inhaled our “lunch” and put the key back when we heard the elevator coming up. We were greeted by Maxi, the owner of the B&B. Our room is just precious – not air conditioned, but precious! We dropped off our stuff and ran back out the door to start our sightseeing. We took the metro to the Coliseum – it was incredible! 11€ to see the coolest, oldest place in Rome was a bargain! No pictures or words can do it justice.
Then we hopped back on our sightseeing tour bus “Ciao Roma” to see the rest of the sites we had planned out. Vatican City is closed on Sundays. We called the Pope to let him know we would be there today, but he already had company and he asked us if we could visit on tomorrow. We agreed. We enjoyed McDonald’s for dinner – did you know they have curly fries over here? Well, they do. We came home, showered, rested for a little bit, and then walked around to find some gelatto. We found a little place and sat outside to people watch and talk for a little bit and then came back to the B&B.
Update: I know you’re thinking, “Update? Already?” The answer is a solid “Yes.” We told you earlier that Alice in Wonderland didn’t have A/C and we also confirmed that Callie is smart. Callie noticed an A/C box in our room, but we couldn’t figure out how to turn it on. When we arrived today, Callie told Maxi that she read something about A/C being available upon request, but he said that there were no rooms with A/C available for tonight. Well, the receptionist left at 11 tonight so no one is here except for the other guests. Callie noticed a remote to an A/C box in the main room that looks like the box we have in our room. She decided to see if the remote would work on the box in our room… AND IT DOES! The Lord totally provides and we are just so grateful! We really have realized that we are most grateful for the things that once seemed so little in the states that our now big things since we have been here – escalators/elevators, A/C, English speaking people, French/German/Italians that have English as a second (or third, fourth, fifth) language, showers that don’t require shower shoes, and many more blessings!
We are also grateful for each of you! Love y’all and will see you soon! Up next – Munich, London, Nice, Dallas, TX.