North America, Europe, Asia · 66 Days · 172 Moments · March 2016

Stacey's Odyssey through Europe

20 May 2016

On my last morning in Dublin, I went to the National Gallery and saw the temporary exhibit of DaVinci drawings. I also went to the Dublin Castle and into the Chester Beatty Library. It was a wonderful send-off from Dublin and back to Chicago.

19 May 2016

Outside of St. Andrew's Church is the statue of Molly Malone. I have no idea why she has such a low-cut dress but she is the main character in the unofficial song of Dublin.
My last stop was The Little Museum of Dublin. It is a museum full of artifacts donated by residents of Dublin. The guided tour was really informative and gave a brief but thorough history of Dublin. There were also some awesome pictures of U2 from their early days on the top floor.
After all that drinking, I actually went back and took a nap before heading to the Jeannie Johnston. She was used as a cargo ship as well as to transport Irish immigrants during the Great Famine. The guided tour was really interesting and I cannot even imagine spending two months with 100 people on that ship.
Stop two was at the Guinness Storehouse. It was 11 am, so a slightly more reasonable hour to be drinking. The tour itself is cool, but by far the best part of the experience is the Gravity Bar at the top with a 360 degree view of Dublin.
On my only full day in Dublin, I started it off right at the Jameson Distillery Tour. 9:30 am was a little early for whiskey for me but the tour was really interesting. Towards the end, there was a 3 taste test between Johnny Walker Black, Jack Daniels and Jameson. I never realized how different they all taste but the Jameson was the best and smoothest by far (imagine that).

18 May 2016

On my first evening in Dublin I went to the Ha'Penny Bridge, St. Patrick's Cathedral and the Christ Church Cathedral. All of that followed by an amazing burger at Bunsen.
During my last morning in Edinburgh, I went to the National Museum of Scotland. It is an amazing building with a great collection and thorough explanation of Scottish history. I was only there about 1 hour and could have easily spent another 2-3 more if I didn't need to get to the airport.
I took a lot of pictures of the Edinburgh Castle. It was across the street from my accommodations and every time I walked by it looked slightly different and warranted another photo.

17 May 2016

The famous bridges in Edinburgh.
On the day trip, I also did a boat ride on Loch Ness. I did not see the monster (don't be fooled by the first picture) but the water is so black it's easy to understand how the tale originated. Our guide said the visibility in the water is 8-12 feet and is 15 degrees Celsius year round. Chilly!
Our second stop was Glencoe. It is absolutely stunning but famous for a sad reason. It is where the Macdonald tribe was slaughtered by Scottish government orders. Luckily, some soldiers warned the people what was going to happen and many people escaped harm.
This is the road that James Bond drives down near the end of the movie Skyfall!
I took an all day tour through the Scottish Highlands with Rabbie's Tours. Our first stop was Loch Labnaig. It was absolutely gorgeous.

16 May 2016

The view of Edinburgh from Calton Hill is stunning and I was so lucky to be there on this perfect evening. These pictures were taken around 8:30 pm and sunset was at 9:20 pm.
This is the view from Princes Street Gardens. It is absolutely beautiful and there were so many people out enjoying it on this gorgeous day.
I had to have some local cuisine and Mums was delicious.
Around Edinburgh

15 May 2016

I took wayyy too many pictures at the Making of Harry Potter Tour outside of London. But it was so cool!
The last of the Harry Potter pictures.
Still more Harry Potter.
Even more Harry Potter.
More Harry Potter.
St. James's Park, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and the London Eye.
The Green Park on my way to Buckingham Fountain and Buckingham Palace. I went early in the morning before I got on the train to the Warner Bros studio and the lighting was beautiful. Also, no crowds.

14 May 2016

The gothic architecture of the Royal Courts of Justice is amazing.
The inside was closed but the outside of St. Paul's Cathedral is just stunning.
I visited the Tate Modern museum and the collection is incredible and the building itself is amazing.
The bridges of London. I absolutely love the lighting of the Tower Bridge.
I had a brownie from here and it was fantastic!
More from the National Gallery.
I entered the lottery for the matinee performance of The Book of Mormon at the Prince of Wales theatre. I won a ticket and paid £20 for a 5th row ticket!
The National Gallery in London has such an impressive collection. I was really excited to be able to see some of these works in person.
Here are some random shots around London.
More from the British Museum
My accommodations were right by the British Museum so I was able to go for a few hours on Friday night and then again Saturday morning. Some of the friezes from the Parthenon are housed at the British Museum, so it was perfect to see having just arrived from Athens.

13 May 2016

The Rosetta Stone at the British Museum.

12 May 2016

A view from the hotel room during my last night in Athens.
Here are the ruins of Hadrian's Library
Even more from the Ancient Agora
Here is the Church of the Holy Apostles, built in 1000 AD
More pictures at the Ancient Agora
This is the Temple of Apollo in the Agora. It's the most intact temple in Athens and absolutely amazing.
I then went to the Ancient Agora and they have a pretty interesting museum. The pieces of clay pottery with names were a way of voting to keep democratic balance. Everyone would write the name of who they thought was the most popular and the person with the most votes was exiled for 10 years. Not the popularity contest I would want to win...
I went to the Roman Agora in Athens and it was beautiful. I love how the steps are worn down in the middle. How many footsteps does it take to do that?!

11 May 2016

After 2 months of hand washing clothes in the sink or trying to scrounge up money for washers in hostel, I actually had my laundry done at the hotel. I feel like a million bucks.
I also did a free walking tour of Athens. This is Walter (our guide) and Leon (stray dog) who took us around the city for about 3 hours. It was a great way to see the city, get insider tips and orient to places.
Church of Panaghia Kapnikarea built in 1050 AD. Our hotel was in Psyrri and I walked by the church a few times a day. Incredible inside as well.

10 May 2016

More from the Archeological Museum. These paintings were on the walls in the ruins of Akrotiri on Santorini. We saw the ruins about a week ago and it was amazing to see these pieces and know the context. Our guide in Akrotiri said it took archaeologists 2 years to remove these paintings from the walls of the ruins.
More from the National Archeological Museum in Athens
More from the National Archeological Museum
I was at the National Archaeological Museum for about 4 hours. This jewelry looks like you would find in a store today but is from the 14th century BC.

9 May 2016

I spent a few hours at the Museum of Cycladic Art. The exhibitions themselves are stunning and the artifacts are amazing.
We came back to Athens after Santorini. The National Garden of Athens was very peaceful and lush.

8 May 2016

We took a sunset cruise on a wooden boat that also stopped for a walk around the volcanic island. For perspective, the second picture is of the volcano from our hotel balcony. It was fantastic and the whole group of islands reminds me of Crater Lake. So pretty!

7 May 2016

We walked around in the city of Oia for a few hours and then saw the sunset before heading home.
We stopped at Santo Wines for a tasting. They are mostly known for whites but the Vinsanto we had there was incredible. The grapes are grown low to the ground in a basket shape that the farmers weave so they are better irrigated since Santorini does not have its own water supply.
We also visited the red sand beach and the black sand beach. The black sand gets so hot under the sun!
We also went to another prehistoric city that was uncovered on Santorini named Akrotiri. It was very interesting and I'm starting to feel like Indiana Jones after seeing all these archeological sites.
On our second day in Santorini we went to the highest point on the island and then walked through the tiny, cute town of Megalochori (means big city).

6 May 2016

We saw the sunset from the wooden boat. The lighting is just unbelievable and photos really don't do it justice.

5 May 2016

We made it to Santorini and we stayed in an awesome hotel! Here is the view from our balcony and our view of the sunset.
I saw the sunrise in Crete and it was stunning. We also went to the Heraklion Archeology Museum and it was incredible how many artifacts they have. Also, I learned that bull jumping (jumping over a charging bull) was a sport back in the day.

4 May 2016

We spent a morning in Rhodes. We walked through the streets, saw the old town and the palace.

3 May 2016

We spent a few hours in Patmos walking through the streets with shops. It is another place with a gorgeous harbor.
The port in Kusadasi was absolutely beautiful.
The last stop on the tour was at a Turkish rug making shop. The amount of time and dedication that go into making a rug is unbelievable. And they had pretty roses.
More pictures of Ephesus
The tour also took us to Ephesus, an ancient city built in the 10th century BC. It was amazing to see the architecture and how well preserved it is. The first pictures are of the iconic library.
The first stop of our cruise was Kusadasi, Turkey. We did a tour that took us to the House of the Virgin Mary.

2 May 2016

We left Mykonos and took a tender boat to the Celestyal Olympia, our home on the sea for the next 4 days.

1 May 2016

In Mykonos we went to Ornos beach one day and Paradise beach the next. Soooo beautiful!
The windmills in Mykonos are iconic and I took too many pictures of them because they look so stunning in different lighting. Here is the limited collection :)
Mykonos is absolutely beautiful and photos just don't do it justice.

30 April 2016

We spent one day at Ornos Beach- gorgeous and neither of us got sun burned.

29 April 2016

We took a short cruise from Athens to Mykonos for a few days.

28 April 2016

This was the view of the Parthenon at night from the roof of our hotel. Beautiful lighting.
It was a busy day at the Parthenon in Athens!
We went to the Acropolis and saw the Temple of Athena and the Parthenon. It's unbelievable how it was constructed so long ago and made to be visually perfect.
The Acropolis Museum in Athens was very interesting with great examples of the evolution of Greek sculpting. It also houses most of the original friezes from the Parthenon. Two thumbs up.
We also saw the changing of the guard in Athens at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This was by far the most dramatic changing we have seen with extra points for fanfare. There was a lot of shoe scuffing, stomping and single leg balancing.
In Athens, we saw the Panathenaic Stadium. It is where the first Olympic Games were held in 1896.

27 April 2016

We went to the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel (no photos allowed!) We saw the School of Athens, the Thinker and lots of other famous artwork. After the museum, we had to get to FCO for an afternoon flight to Athens.
On Wednesday mornings, the pope holds an audience and I snapped this picture on the way to the Vatican Museum. Sooo many people.

26 April 2016

We also went to San Pietro square and basilica. Every square inch of the interior is adorned. Absolutely incredible.
The Pantheon
We also went to the Trevi Fountain, Column of Marcus Aurelius and the Arch of Constantine.
Along with the Colosseum, we did a tour of the Palatine Hill ruins and the Forum ruins.
After Pisa, we made it to Rome. We did a tour of the Colosseum and it was fascinating!

25 April 2016

While in Pisa, I went to the Botanical Gardens that are part of the University of Pisa (Kathleen went to a cafe). The gardens were beautiful and it was a great time of year because there were lots of blooms! There are too many pictures, so I need to break it into 2 posts.
Pisa Botanical Gardens round 2 :)
On our way out of Cinque Terre, we stopped in Pisa for a few hours. We went to the Leaning Tower of Pisa and took the obligatory "holding up the tower" photos.

24 April 2016

Our second full day in Cinque Terre was absolutely beautiful and we hiked as much of the trail between the 5 cities as we could (some of it is closed from landslides). We hiked from Corniglia to Vernazza to Monterosso. Then we took the train down to Riomaggiore and hiked from there to Manarola. We couldn't hike the part from Manarola back to Corniglia because the trail was pretty poor and sunset would have been while we were still on the trail. So we took the train instead but it was still a wonderful day.

23 April 2016

During this trip, I've also been trying to read more for pleasure since I haven't dedicated much time to it the last 2 years. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou Bossy Pants by Tina Fey The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling) Love Becomes a Funeral Pyre by Mick Wall (I loved this! Fascinating history of The Doors.)
Movies Continued Warsaw and Kraków, Poland- Schindler's List. What an incredible story and it was even cooler to have gone to the factory in Kraków. Vienna, Austria - Before Sunrise. Cute story and awesome shots/views of Vienna. Munich, Germany - Sleeping Beauty. We visited the Neuschwanstein Castle (about 2 hours outside of Munich), which was the inspiration for the castle in Sleeping Beauty. Interlaken, Switzerland - Touching the Void. The story of two mountain climbers who miraculously live after things go wrong while climbing in a remote region in Peru. I watched it because it was actually filmed at Jungfrau, which you can see from Interlaken. I thought it was an amazing film and a true testament to the human will to survive. Corniglia in Cinque Terre, Italy - Eat, Pray, Love. In Italy, she eats and that is also my plan.

22 April 2016

We spent most of the day today traveling but we made it to Cinque Terre in Italy. We are staying in the town of Corniglia, and those are beaded curtains in front of our door. More importantly we found gelato.

21 April 2016

Our second day in Interlaken we took the train to Lauterbrautten and then a cable car up to Grütschlap. From there we hiked about 2 hours to the city of Mürren. Those are the Jungfrau mountains in the background.

20 April 2016

Here are some pictures around Interlaken. Such a beautiful place!
We spent 2 days in Interlaken, Switzerland. These pictures are from when we hiked up to Harder Kulm, which is a restaurant with amazing views. It took about two hours to get to the top with decent elevation gain but definitely worth it!

19 April 2016

We spent a few days in Kandern, Germany to see one of Kathleen's friends who lives there. It was a super cute town and right outside of Basel, Switzerland.

17 April 2016

We spent some time in Munich at the Haufbrauhaus biergarten and around the central town part.
We went to the Neuschwanstein Castle outside of Munich and it was pretty cool. It is the one they modeled the castle in Sleeping Beauty after!
In Innsbruck we went to the Golden Roof and saw the Triumph Arch. Some of the pictures were taken in the early morning on our way to the train station and the lighting was unbelievable.

16 April 2016

We went to Innsbruck, Austria for a day and it is one of the cutest places I have ever been. We took a funicular and then cable car up to the top of a mountain where there were still ski and snowboard runs open. The views of the city from so high up were incredible and the Alps are beautiful. We stopped about half way down the mountain for lunch.

15 April 2016

In Salzburg we also went to the Mirabell Gardens, which are outside of the University.
We spent a day in Salzburg, Austria. We did a hike to see views of the fortress and then took the funicular up the to fortress. Very pretty!

14 April 2016

We went to Budapest for a day and it was a fun place. I've learned that wearing a bright green coat is very helpful in photos :) We spent the day at a bath house and got massages. We got dinner from small family owned diner by our hotel and I still have no idea what it was but it was delicious.

13 April 2016

Stop 2 on the winery tour was Mang Winery.
Wine tasting bike tour- stop one at Domane Wachau.

12 April 2016

Danube Tower and Park
We went to Prater Park, which is one of the oldest amusement parks in the world. We did get some cool views from the Ferris Wheel!
Museum of Applied Art (MAK) in Vienna
Spanish Riding School in Vienna was amazing! I absolutely loved it.

9 April 2016

We went to the Salt Mines in Kraków that have been actively mined for hundreds of years. They even had a chandelier decorated with salt!
We did a half day trip to Auschwitz and Birkenau. I was initially hesitant to take any photos or post them because it seems voyeuristic of the epitome of misery and loss. But I think it's more important to remember and honor the people who were murdered. "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana

8 April 2016

Kathleen and I both really liked Kraków. We went to Wawel Castle and saw the DaVinci painting on display. We also went to St. Francis's cathedral, went to Schindler's factory (picture is of him with a horse) and had some pierogis.

7 April 2016

We went to Warsaw, Poland for a day and we had a great time. Saw the church, Old Town Warsaw and climbed the tower for a bird's eye view. We even had pierogis!
I really like this picture of Warsaw because of the contrasting skylines (old in foreground, new in background).
Kathleen and I are currently on our way to Warsaw, Poland after a few days in Berlin. We were originally planning on leaving Berlin yesterday but we both liked the city a lot and felt like there was more to see, so we stayed an extra day :)

6 April 2016

We went to the Reichstag building, which houses Parliament in Berlin. Sadly, we did not see Angela Merkel. But we did get some sweet pictures of the dome.
We went on a Berlin Underground tour (no photos allowed) that took us into an air raid shelter in a subway station that was used during WWII. Very interesting!

5 April 2016

Brandenburg Gate
We went by Checkpoint Charlie and saw the limited remains of the Berlin Wall. The city has 2 lines of parallel red bricks in the ground that denote where the wall had been. It's unbelievable to think it only came down in 1989. The last picture is of a sniper station that was used to guard the wall in East Germany in the area called the "death strip."
The staples of cuisine in Berlin - beer, currywurst and schnitzel .
The Holocaust Memorial in the first two pictures. The third picture is where Hitler's bunker was located underground. It has since been filled in and is now used as a parking lot and place for people living in the surrounding apartments to bring their pets to relieve themselves.
We did a bike tour through Berlin, which is an awesome way to see the city. Sights were the TV tower, Humboldt University, museums, cathedrals, Victory tower, and parks. The last picture is of Hotel Adlon - where MJ infamously held his child out of a window. Very informative tour indeed.

4 April 2016

Movies Continued :) Berlin, Germany - The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. Definitely not a feel good movie and it made me cry on the train. Nonetheless, beautifully done. Other Movies (we have spent a lot of time on planes and trains) The Crash Reel - about snowboarder Kevin Pearce who sustained a TBI while training for the 2010 Winter Olympics. A really interesting movie, especially if you have any role in health care or rehab. Up in the Air - two words. George. Clooney. Creed - I really enjoyed it and who doesn't love Stalone? Why do cows wear bells?
So I've been trying to watch a movie on the way to every place we have gone that relates in some way to that location. Here are the locations, movies I watched and my detailed critique. Reykjavik, Iceland- The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. I really liked it for the scenery, wanderlust and Sean Penn. Definitely recommend watching. Oslo, Norway - Kon Tiki. All I can say is those men were crazy and it's incredible they made it. It made the trip to the Kon Tiki Museum in Oslo that much more interesting. Stockholm, Sweden - The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Admittedly this movie is based in the land of Oz, but it does relate to Sweden because of the ABBA connection. I enjoyed the movie but the soundtrack really makes it (my Dad agrees). Copenhagen, Denmark - Copenhagen. The story is a little dark (late 20's bro falling in love with a 14 year old girl). I loved that it was shot in Copenhagen and it had a lot of bike riding.
Church of Our Saviour in Copenhagen. The most beautiful Lutheran church I have ever seen. We even climbed the 400 steps to the top!

3 April 2016

We walked by Noma, one of the world's best restaurants. Sadly, they are booked out for months.
We did a canal tour through Copenhagen and it was really cute. It's my favorite city so far.
We did a bike tour with a local guy named Mike and it was awesome. We biked around the streets of Copenhagen, saw the little mermaid and the changing of the guards (aka the elite Danish killing machines per Mike). I loved it!

1 April 2016

Pictures around Stockholm
Went for fika at Drop Coffee and it was reallllly good
ABBA Museum and Swedish Music Hall of Fame. Super interesting!
Vasamuseet. A war ship that was poorly constructed / engineered sunk in the harbor during its maiden voyage in the 1600's. Very interesting to learn about how they got it out and restored it. But seriously, who thought that thing wasn't going to sink?

31 March 2016

Fotografiska is a very cool photography museum. And it's open until 1 am on Thursday nights!
Gunters Korvar. A sausage in every country so far!
Hello Sweden!

30 March 2016

Tour of Mack Brewery. Very cool and the northern most brewery in the world!
Tromsø Cathedral
Tromsø Botanical gardens were quite snowy :)

29 March 2016

We went on a Northern Lights tour with a family from Germany and 2 girls in undergrad from Shanghai, China. He took us to a beach about 1 hour outside of the city and we were lucky enough to see the lights within about 30 minutes. We stayed about 4 hours and it was one of the coolest things I've seen. It seems like the people in Norway all have theories on the lights. A guy on the train to Bergen told us not to laugh at the lights or they disappear. The husband at the Airbnb in Oslo told us that at the end of the lights there is a door to another dimension. We didn't test either of the theories.
Pictures from the Northern Lights tour guide on 3/29/16
Views of Tromso in northern Norway. It's a really cute city surrounded by water and mountains. And we stayed at a hotel that has an unlimited coffee/latte machine and make your own waffles from 3-6 pm!
After the 4 teenagers with an infant showed up in the seats next to us on the overnight train, we decided to upgrade to a sleeping compartment. Best $50 I've spent all trip :)
Arctic Cathedral in Tromso. Very beautiful inside and out. Reminds me of the Sydney Opera House.
We went to the Polar Museum, which our Northern Lights tour guide later lovingly called "the Killing Museum." It's a pretty accurate description. There were so many stuffed seals and a reenactment of baby seal being clubbed that was truly terrifying. But it also had a model of my favorite ship name of all time - the Polarfart

28 March 2016

We spent a few hours at the Aquarium in Bergen

27 March 2016

View of Bergen from Floibanen Funicular, Bryggen and just around Bergen

26 March 2016

Yesterday we had a train from Oslo to Myrdal and then from Myrdal to Flam. I called about a week earlier to make the train tickets but when we got to the train station, the kiosk was unable to find out reservation. So I asked one of the very nice NSB (Norwegian train line worker) and she told me that the email I received in Norsk stated I needed to pick up the tickets yesterday, our seats were given away and all of the trains were sold out from the Easter holiday. I was about to cry and Kathleen was not. The helpful lady told us that the only person who could allow us on the train without a ticket was the conductor. Needless to say, we told him our sob story and he let us on. And they even found us seats. Crisis averted but I learned a very important lesson- always translate emails if they come to you in another language.

25 March 2016

View of the train from Myrdal to Flam, the "town" of Flam, a beer flight from Flam, and hanging out at the train stations.

24 March 2016

Munch museum, National Museum of Art, Parliament, National Theatre and a latte
At the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo. Very interesting!

23 March 2016

The Vigeland Park with some very interesting and naked sculptures.
The Norwegian Maritime Museum
The Fram Museum - about the polar expeditions. Made me glad to not be stuck on an ice locked ship for 3 years. The lukewarm latte this morning doesn't seem so bad in retrospect. #firstworldproblems
Kon Tiki Museum about expeditions to Polynesia and Easter Island
The Viking Museum in Oslo

22 March 2016

So yesterday we regrouped to figure out our plans for the rest of the week and then today we flew from Reykjavik to Oslo. Calling it an early night tonight and then museums early tomorrow!

20 March 2016

We did a tour of Southern Iceland. First waterfall was Seljalandsfoss, then the site of a volcanic eruption, then the black sand beach. Then we stopped by glaciers (Solheimajokull and Myrdalsjokull) and ended at another waterfall (Skogafoss).

19 March 2016

We went to the top of the church (Hallgrimskirkja) to see a bird's eye view of the city, Reykjavík 871±2 museum (with Saga and settlement exhibitions) and then to Reykjavik Roasters for some coffee talk.

18 March 2016

Pingvellir National Park
Gullfoss falls
Strokkur Geyser
Faxi Waterfall with salmon ladder
At the crater

17 March 2016

Bill Clinton's favorite hot dog stand in Iceland. So good we each had 1.5.
CityWalk tour of Reykjavik
We did an amazing Icelandic horse tour through the volcanos with Islenski Hesturinn. My new friend Birta!

16 March 2016

Some of the sights of Iceland at night. And Kathleen with sheep.
We flew from LAX --> SEA --> KEF. We arrived in Iceland at 6:45 am. Then coffee. And then went straight to the Blue Lagoon for 5 hours.