England, Scotland, The Netherlands, France, Germany, Monaco, Switzerland, Italy, The Vatican
London & Glasgow
August 1: We are making a habit of sleeping much later than we should, then springing into the city with lots to do, and then getting most of it done. Today we went up the big Ferris wheel to look at the city, walked by Ben Big and Parliament (with repeated references to National Lampoons Vacation in the process), the war room, 10 Downing Street, and Buckingham Palace. For dinner we ended up at an Indian restaurant in the financial district. We feel like we've walked way too much already, and we're only one city into our trip.
August 2: We finished our last day in London at the Tower Bridge and the Tower of London and got to take a nice walk down the Thames and across London Bridge. Tomorrow we're up early to head to Glasgow. Hope everything is going well at home.
August 3: Got to Glasgow this morning and saw the Graham castle and Loch Loman before getting real fish and chips for dinner. I am in an internet phone booth waiting for a train back to Glasgow right now. Long day today, a nice B&B tonight, and then off to Amsterdam tomorrow.
London & Glasgow
Amsterdam & Paris
August 4: We're in Amsterdam at a coffee shop (where you have to be 18 to enter, so I think they are selling something besides coffee). Went to the Anne Frank house today and took a boat ride through the canals here. Really pretty stuff. Tomorrow morning, we're off to Paris.
August 5: Left Amsterdam yesterday morning and took the train here to Paris. Ended up wandering around the city for about two hours looking for the tourism office which had recently moved, but it paid off when we got a great room cheap, 75 euros a night, right in the middle of downtown. Last night we went up the Eiffel Tower and today went to Versailles, walked the Champs Elysees, and walked to the top of the Arc du Triumph. We've had a few nice dinners and seem to be walking off the calories.
August 6: Took the bus tour today around town to see what we had not found on our own. Saw the Bastille, or rather what is left, Notre Dame, and some local neighborhoods. Tomorrow Alvin is off to the Louvre and I am going to Normandy for the day, then the overnight train to Berlin by Tuesday morning.
Amsterdam & Paris
Berlin & Munich
August 9: Woke up this morning as the train was pulling into the station in Berlin. The sleeper room wasn't too bad, but the two folks we shared it with had a certain smell about them. Not much on our list to do here, so we're making a day out of it and then taking another overnight train to Munich tonight. So far we've made the tour bus circuit once and we'll probably do it again since we missed a few pictures. It is rainy and cold here today, we both have a bit of a scratchy throat and I got a pretty disgusting blister on a little toe, so that has been slowing us down a bit. Undeterred, though, we saw what's left of the Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie, and the Brandenburg Gate, as well as some of the old imperial German castles and churches (and ONLY because we had time, the Erotic Museum).
August 10: We woke up on a train for the second morning in a row today, and that was really starting to take its toll, but we're in a hotel in Munich for the next two nights. We already napped quite a while earlier today, but after a trip to the Olympic Stadium and Dachau. Both were quite good. The town here is a lot sweeter than Berlin, more like the pictures of Germany we see in movies.
August 12: We decided to stay another day in Munich since we both are enjoying this city so much. We split up yesterday, one on a bike tour, the other on a bus tour. I'll leave it to your imagination as to which of us did each. We both ended up seeing the old Bavarian castles and the old city gates. Quite a charming place; the bells all ring in the town square at noon, so we're going to try to get back there today to see that again. I think I also got a picture from the same place and perspective as a shot of Hitler in Munich at the beginning of World War I.
Berlin & Munich
Nuremberg & Geneva
August 13: Woke up in Munich this morning, but hopped on the train after breakfast. We arrived in Nuremberg this afternoon and went out to the Place of Justice where the trials were held after World War II, walked by but did not see a jousting contest, and stopped by a Scottish festival with Nuremberg's sister city, Glasgow. This city is quite small; two subway stops took us from one end to the other, though there is more outside the old city walls.
August 14: We are learning that the German idea of breakfast is pretty much the same everywhere: hard boiled egg, bland cereal, and lots of bread. At least we haven't been asked to pay 30 cents to use the bathroom at McDonald's since Berlin. Went to the Nazi Party rally grounds today and also toured the town's dungeons for a while, but we got ahead of our German-speaking group and got to enjoy the torture chamber all by ourselves. We are getting some German-Mexican for dinner and then hopping a train to Stuttgart, taking an overnight train from there to Milan, and then connecting to a third train to get to Monte Carlo by mid day and Nice shortly thereafter. Lots of trains for the next few days as we try to get a taste of a few places and go to them in an order that gives us overnight train options.
August 16: We have traveled more since we last wrote than anytime on the trip. We left Nuremberg around 9 on Sunday night, connected to a sleeper train in Stuttgart with no problems, but arrived late to Milan and missed our connection there, which put us in late to Monte Carlo and Nice. No problem, however, since there wasn't that much we wanted to do in either place; just see the casino and get our feet in the sea. And so it was breakfast in Italy (McDonald's outside the train station in Milan), lunch in Monaco (ice cream: total bill for one school each was 10), and dinner in France (Chinese place in Nice, and we did not end up in the ritzy part, if there is one; cost unconscionable). Then this morning we took another train to Geneva, arriving here by early afternoon, with time to see the UN headquarters here, which was the home to the League of Nations previously, and to walk along the lake. Our last train is in a few hours, overnight to Rome in time for breakfast.
Nuremburg & Geneva
Rome & The Vatican
August 17: We arrived in Rome this morning about 10, checked in to our last hotel of the trip, and went out on a bus tour, hopping off at the Coliseum and Palatine Hill. We came back to the hotel around two and crashed until about six, so we are thinking about a nice late dinner somewhere.
August 18: Got up early this morning and went to our last and eighth independent state, the Vatican. Long line but good sights in the museum including the Sistine Chapel. Then we went into a long line for the dome of St. Peter's, which was well worth the wait, even the 300 steps to the top. We also saw the cathedral of the diocese of Rome and the alleged steps Christ walked up to be judged by Pilate.
August 19: Walked around the Jewish Ghetto and Trastavere, the young and hip area, last night in search of a recommended restaurant that was closed for the month. Today we went by the Spanish Steps, the Trevia Fountain (from Three Coins in a Fountain, though neither of us has seen it), and saw an EPCOT-like simulation of how Rome would look if all the ruins were still buildings. We're headed home tomorrow morning, so we'll be in touch once we're back. Thanks for letting us share our trip with you.