Saturday, June 1, 2013


We arrived in Paris in the late afternoon. After retrieving our bags from baggage claim, we set off to find Jazz’s friend Mallory, who had flown into the same airport but was in a different terminal. Once we found her, we took the train into the city to find our hostel.
Our hostel was in the section of Paris known as the “Latin Quarter.” The area was filled with restaurants and street food. We were very close to the Notre Dame, the Louvre, and the Love Lock Bridge. We were about an hour’s walk away from the Eiffel Tower. Once we checked into the hostel and put our stuff away, we headed out to explore the city. The first landmark we visited was the Louvre, however, we didn’t go inside it (although we 2 days later). We were all pretty tired from travelling, so we made it an early night.

We left early in the morning to go to the Eiffel Tower. Unfortunately the weather in Paris wasn’t as nice as the weather we have gotten used to in Rome, the cruise, and Prague. It was much colder and rained on and off every day.  The colder weather didn’t stop us from walking around. After visiting the Eiffel Tower, we took the metro back to grab a bite to eat. Then, we met up with a group to do a free walking tour. The tour was supposed to be about 3 hours, but we only stayed about an hour because the sky got extremely dark and it looked like it was about to storm badly.
Once we left the walking tour, we headed toward the Notre Dame. Then, we walked around some of the neighboring areas, and eventually made our way back to the hostel. All three of us fell asleep for about 2 hours—a much needed nap. The rest of the night consisted of dinner and going to see the Eiffel Tower lit up at night. We didn’t travel to the Eiffel Tower, but we watched it from a distance. Every hour the whole tower sparkles for 5 minutes, a very pretty light show.

 We took the train to the Palace of Versailles, which was a little outside the city. We arrived early in the morning and toured the Palace. By the time we finished, the rain clouds had rolled in, along with the rain. Because of the rain, we weren’t able to enjoy the beautiful gardens Versailles had to offer. We quickly walked out towards the gardens and got to see how sprawling they truly are.
We left Versailles and headed back into the city. We visited the Arch de Triumph and then headed back towards the hostel.  The rest of the afternoon consisted of resting at the hostel and walking around. In the evening we went into the Louvre, which was free for anyone under 26 on Friday nights.

Day 4

The catacombs were one of the last major sites we wanted to visit before leaving Paris. The line was very long when we arrived, and we decided not to wait. Next, we walked to the Luxembourg Gardens where we relaxed for a little while. After leaving the gardens, we walked around the Latin Quarter, which we hadn’t fully explored yet. We had a lot of time between checking out of our hostel and leaving for the airport. Our plane didn’t leave until 9:30 at night. The rest of the day we spent walking around and eating, before we went to the airport to leave for Rome. 


After departing the cruise ship, we headed to the airport to board our plane to Prague. We have heard that Prague is an amazing city, so we were really excited to finally get there. The hotel we stayed in was very nice and was about a 2.5 mile walk from the historical center. The weather was great during our stay, so walking everywhere was no problem.

Our first full day began by us waking up early to head into the city. We left around 8:00 and walked around for a couple hours before taking a free walking tour at 11:00. The tour was about three hours and took us to most of the historical sites in the city. We had an awesome tour guide who was very knowledgeable and funny. The free tour went by quickly—due to the combination of the interesting guide, beautiful weather, and being surrounded so many things to look at.

We decided to take another walking tour right after the free one. Our same guide was leading a castle tour. We had about 15 minutes to grab lunch before beginning the next 3 hour tour. We grabbed a quick lunch and immediately left for the castle.

After finishing the second walking tour, we wanted to eat traditional Czech food for dinner before walking back to our hostel. The tour guide recommended a restaurant nearby, so we headed there. We both wanted goulash, which is a popular eastern european dish, but the restaurant had recently run out and was in the process of making a new batch (this would take another couple of hours). Instead, we ordered two different, delicious dishes off the menu. The meal was very good and it was a much needed rest before walking the 2 miles back to the hotel. We were exhausted by the time we got back around 7:00, having been walking about 12 hours straight.

Since we saw almost the entire city on day 1, we chose to sleep in and have a later start. Jazz was sick with a cold yesterday, but woke up feeling much worse today. After eating the hotel breakfast (which was included in the price of our hotel room), we headed towards center city. We walked around for a few hours and headed to the same Czech restaurant for lunch. We still wanted goulash, and luckily they had it today. It wasn’t quite what we were expecting, but it was still good.

The rest of the day consisted of us resting and organizing. We would have to leave for the airport early the next morning to fly to Paris. 


We took a 7 night cruise which left from a seaport right outside of Rome called Civitavecchia and traveled to Messina (Italy), Athens (Greece), Kusadasi (Turkey), and Chania (Greece). The cruise was a much needed, relaxing vacation. We had amazing weather almost the entire week—it was about 80 degrees and sunny, with a nice breeze.

The Royal Caribbean ship we were on was called the Navigator of the Seas. It wasn’t the newest ship, but everything was maintained very well. We had an inside stateroom, with no windows, so naturally we did not spend much time in there. We took advantage of the pool area, spending time both in the sun, and lounging on chairs in the shaded areas. The shaded areas were really nice because the chairs faced large, glass windows that looked out at sea. Of course we were both excited that most of the food was included in the purchase price of the ship. Even though we ate our fair share of dessert, we were most excited by the variety of foods (since we had been lacking variety in Rome), and the healthy foods, such as salads and lots of fruit. Almost every night, except for the “formal nights,” where everyone was dressed in ball gowns and tuxedos, we ate in the dining room. We were assigned a table with the same waiter every night. The ship also included a nice fitness center, which Jazz visited all but one day.

The first stop on the cruise was Messina, Italy. We arrived the morning after departure from Civitavecchia and we were both exhausted from our traveling from Napoli. There isn’t too much to do in Messina, and we weren’t as excited to visit there since we had been living in Italy. We got off and walked around a little bit, got ourselves a Sicilian cannoli, and then headed back onboard the ship. We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing by the pool.

After leaving Messina, we had a day at sea before reaching Athens early Tuesday morning. We left the ship around 7:00AM, to make our way into Athens. It took about a two mile walk (which is nothing to us now, since we have gotten used to walking everywhere) and a metro ride to reach Athens. Once we arrived in Athens, we headed straight for the Acropolis. We were glad we left so early because we beat all the crowds, who were arriving as we were finishing. After seeing the Acropolis we walked to the first Olympic stadium in modern history. Then we went into the Museum of War, which had a lot of war artifacts, like guns, knives, uniforms, etc. Once we finished in the museum it was lunchtime, and we went  in search of gyros and baklava (a delicious dessert with layers of pastry dough, a walnut and raisin filling, drizzled with honey), which we eventually found. We had a really good day in Athens, and made it back on the ship in the late afternoon.

The next morning we woke up in Kusadasi, Turkey. The main attraction in this tourist town is Ephesus, which is about a 30 minute drive outside the city. Ephesus is a former Greek town, turned Roman city, famous for having the temple of Artemis (one of the ancient wonders of the world). While walking to find the transport to take us to Ephesus, we met a nice British couple who was also going to Ephesus. The van didn't take us to the entrance of Ephesus, but instead dropped us off at the base of the mountain. We were told to walk left, about 5km (3.2 miles) around the side of the mountain to the entrance. Well, half of the people in our bus went straight, and we turned left like the guy who gave directions said. We were still with the British couple, so that provided some nice entertainment for the walk ahead. It seemed like the road was leading nowhere. We passed multiple cars and buses, a few fields with cows, and a field with women working in it (they all stopped and stared as we walked by). Finally, about an hour later, we reached the entrance of Ephesus. It was incredibly crowded, with tour groups everywhere. Despite the crowds, we were extremely impressed with the old city. The amount we saw covered a lot of ground and we considered it to be large, but in reality only 10% has been uncovered. We found out later that if we had walked straight instead of left you could enter through the exit, which was about 200m from where we got off.

The fourth city we stopped at was Chania, located on the Greek island of Crete.  We had to take a short bus ride from the cruise ship into the city center. We first went into a large, indoor market, which was right outside the bus stop. After looking around in there, eating the best baklava we’ve had, and utilizing the free wifi offered (you had to pay for internet on the ship and it was very expensive), we headed out of the market. Upon stepping outside, we were greeted by strong winds, light rain, and a very cloudy sky. It looked like it was going to storm really badly, so we made the decision to catch the bus back to the ship. We were disappointed that the weather looked so terrible because the city was very walkable and looked like it had a lot of shops and things to look at. It was also unfortunate because we left this port much earlier than all the other ones—at 2:30 instead of 4:30—so there was no chance of going back into town if the weather cleared up.

The cruise came to a close with another day at sea, and then arriving back in Civatavecchia the following morning. We departed the cruise at 7:00 in the morning and made our way to the Rome airport to leave for Prague.