Friday, August 24, 2007

Ainslie's Weather Report

We're still new to this blogging business, but we wanted to see how uploading videos works.

Here's a little weather report from Ainslie when we were in Florence . . .

Monday, August 20, 2007

Home at Last

It’s good to be home! We’re still adjusting to the time change and recovering from a few sleepless nights on the road home, but we couldn’t be happier to be back. At church today, someone sat down next to Josh and asked if he had a good week. Josh just said, “It was kind of busy, but yeah, it was good.”

And, the business doesn’t seem to be dying down at all. Now we need to find an apartment and get moved out of our current place by the end of the month. We’ve had a few promising leads, but nothing concrete yet. If you know of any nice places . . .

But, before we start moving forward, we wanted to give a little wrap up on how things ended up for us in Europe.

Things ended wonderfully in Italy. We had two and a half days in Rome, and we enjoyed every pizza and pasta filled minute of it. As great as the pizza was, the real magic of Rome (and Italy in general) is a little thing called gelato. So rich, so creamy, so much.
There was plenty to see in Rome besides the gelato stands:
The Roman Forum:The Spanish Steps:The Colosseum:The Trevi Fountain:The Pantheon:The Circus Maximus (where Ben Hur raced):St. Angelo's Castle:Even though we ate mostly ice cream, we also stopped at a few restaurants while we were in Rome. We avoided sit-down restaurants most of the time we were traveling because Ainslie gets a little bored when we sit around for too long, but in Rome the food was just too irresistible. Ainslie was great while we were there, and she spent most of the meal charming the waiters.
We had great luck with all of our hotels on our trip, mostly staying in Best Westerns that we could book online before we left Leipzig, but our hotel in Rome seemed to go above and beyond. Janae didn’t take Josh up on the dare to ask someone for a hug at breakfast, but all of the staff at the hotel definitely “ispired” us the most beautiful emotion while we were there! And Ainslie ispired them. She was pretty popular in Rome too.

In fact, Ainslie got us to the very front of an incredibly long line at the Vatican. We estimate that it would have taken at least 2 or 3 hours had we waited in line, but with the help of a sympathetic security guard, we walked right in. But, even if we had waited, it would have been worth it. The Vatican was great.
We saw lots of spectacular art works as we twisted our way through the maze that is the Vatican museum on our way to the Sistine chapel, but Michelangelo’s work tops everything else there. The chapel is awe-inspiring. Inside the chapel we were constantly reminded by an Italian guard who forcefully told everyone in the chapel “No pictures!” and “Quiet!” So, we didn’t get any pictures, but it was amazing.

After we got out of the Vatican museum we ducked into St. Peter’s Basilica for a few minutes. It’s hard to believe just how big the cathedral is.
We passed on the opportunity to rub St. Peter’s foot, but apparently lots of people seemed to still believe in the promise of a former pope that anyone who rubs the foot will receive 50 days worth of indulgences.
Outside we got a few glimpses of the Swiss Guard before we had to find shelter from the rain. We even got to see ourselves on the “Vaticam” in the square where the Pope speaks.
We were able to see a few of Michelangelo’s other works as well while we were in Rome. The Pieta inside of St. Peter’s was absolutely beautiful, and the sculpture of Moses was fantastic as well.
On the way to Venice, we decided to take a day in Florence, seat of the Medici family government during a significant portion of Italian history.
The skyline in Florence is dominated by the huge Florentine Dome, which is impressive for its exterior decoration as well as its size.
Behind the cathedral we found a museum that housed many of the sculptures that decorated the fa├žade of the church (they had been replaced by replicas so that the originals could be preserved). The museum had an unfinished Pieta by Michelangelo and several sculptures by Donatello (Josh’s favorite Ninja Turtle of years past).
Florence is also remarkable because of its beautiful architecture.
That evening we moved on to Venice. The next morning we caught a bus out to the islands and spent the day walking down the narrow streets and along the canals of Venice. By this point all three of us were pretty much exhausted, but we still enjoyed the chance to see what we could.
Gondola rides were about $140 for 45 minutes around town, so we opted for the view from a bridge rather than the view from the water.
We thought about asking the vegetable boat guy for a ride.From Venice we flew back to Leipzig to take back the computer cord that Josh has been using and get our luggage from the Fingerle’s home.
Our flight to Frankfurt left Leipzig at 5:50 in the morning. We were a little worried about public transportation going out at 3 in the morning to get to the airport, so we decided to rough it at the airport for the night. From Frankfurt we flew directly in to Las Vegas. 11 and ½ hours seemed almost too much after the flight in from Venice and a nearly sleepless night in Leipzig, but Ainslie was a real angel for us again and the time went by quickly. In Vegas, Josh’s Dad was waiting for us at the airport, and after a quick stop at In-n-Out for some good ol’ American hamburgers, we headed north to Provo.
Josh's beard had a ways to go before he could catch up with Grandpa Davee, but that won’t be happening now that we’re back in Provo. School starts next Monday for Josh, and Janae starts the Tuesday after Labor day.

The excitement hasn’t slowed down much now that we are home. Ainslie rolled over on her own for the first time this morning! And, there’s sure to be lots of other news coming up, so keep watching for more stateside updates in the future . . .

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Ainslie Earns a Pony

We’ve decided that if Ainslie ever asks us for a pony when she gets older, we have to give it to her. She has been such a good girl on our trip, and that little smile she’s perfected has helped us make lots of friends.
She has also helped us avoid some really long lines. We already mentioned that she got us to the front of the line at the Reichstag in Berlin. At the Louvre we walked to the front of the line, right pass security. And, today she got us to the front of a line that was so long it took us over five minutes to walk to the front of it. Amazing.

Lest any of you think that traveling with a baby is all fun, games, and skipping to the front of the line, we have plenty of other little “bonuses” too. Lately, they’ve come in the form of diaper malfunctions, like the one on the hotel bed in Paris. And there was the one at the Louvre that was so bad we had to buy a little souvenir onesy because we forgot to bring a spare (there was no saving the one she had been wearing). Most recently there was the one at the Roman forum where Josh held arms and legs while Janae wiped Ainslie down with wipies from her shoulders to her knees. We're getting better at handling things like that, and we were doing a pretty good job at the Forum until it started to rain (hard to hold an umbrella and do all of that at the same time).

But, with all the bonuses and everything, we're having a great trip. Ainslie really has been great. Hopefully she never asks for that pony. . .

Catching up . . .

Wow, a few days without a post, and we fall so far behind . . .

Unfortunately, we had to leave Athens on Tuesday. Fortunately, we were coming to Paris. Unfortunately, it rained almost the entire time we were there. Fortunately, Paris is home to the Louvre, Musee D'Orsay, and more delicious pastries than we could possibly try in just two short days. And yesterday we pulled in to Rome bright and early. But, before we get into what we’ve been up to here, we have a little unfinished business . . .

We spent part of our last day in Athens running around trying to see as many ancient ruins as we could in a day.
We also managed to spend a little bit of time wandering through the shops in the Plaka.
And the rest of the time we explored the narrow little streets at the foot of the Acropolis looking for some good sunset pictures.
Ainslie liked watching the sunset.
On the way back to the hotel, Josh was fascinated by a little street puppet show.
It was hard to say goodbye to Athens, but Paris was fun too. Like we already said, it rained almost the whole time we were there, but we took full advantage of the amazing art museums to escape the rain.
Paris really is a beautiful city, but the best thing about it is the food. We loved the crepes and tarts.
Our second favorite thing about Paris was watching the toy sailboats in the park.
And now it's Italy with pizza, pasta, and lots of old ruins to climb around on. We're having a great time here, and Monday it's off to Venice for a day before we head back to Leipzig on Wednesday. Time goes by so fast . . .