For two weeks we were in Italy with Joy's brother and family. We figured we normally try to go to UT to visit her family, but the cost to go to Italy would be close to the same and we hadn't seen them in a long time and and and... so we did it. DeWayne (the brother in question) took the two weeks off of work so they could all go with us for most of our travels. I anticipate far more blogs than I will probably get around to writing, so here is the quick and dirty version:
The best part of travelling was Hyrum attempting to haul our suitcases around the Philadelphia airport during layovers. He was persistent like nobody's business. He carried on like this for an hour and a half, going back and forth on the people movers. And the FIT he gave us if we took the suitcase away! He just wanted to be a little adult. I dub this Hyrum vs. Suitcase:
We started off the next day in Venice, touring the Murano glass areas, and wandering through the main touristy thoroughfare until we got to the gondola of our choice. So we gonolaed for an hour and then I carried our sleeping baby back to the train home.
Saturday we went to a national park in the Dolomites, part of the Italian Alps. We wandered along a river and climbed up a path to find a serious of waterfalls with little pools.
Tuesday we left Hyrum with their family and took off by ourselves for a few days. We first visited Lake Bled in Slovenia. Any time you see a small lake with an island and a castle rising from the cliff face, it's Lake Bled they're modeling. Gorgeous.
Then we slept in the van for a couple nights in Salzburg, Austria. This is one of the big highlights. Cathedrals, dinner theater, castles, a cable car, trick fountains, rivers, Mozart, fresh breakfast of Brötchen and Nutella, Döner, ... good times.
We took the long way home, pausing in Oberndorf on the German/Austrian border for a pilgrimage to the place where Silent Night was written. "It's only a model." Then we drove through a corner of southern Germany, past Innsbruck and Kufstein in Austria, and on through the twisting hairpins and switchbacks of the Italian Alps during a furious rainstorm in a van with malfunctioning windshield wipers. Good times.
We visited Verona twice, hoping to get in to the third largest Roman Collesseum (the Arena) or the Roman Theater ... but being denied access both times. We did make it to Juliet's house (they added the balcony in the 1930s for the tourists). Even had the balcony been there originally, the plaza here is 14-20 feet wide, so there really wouldn't be anywhere for Romeo to have hidden himself unseen.
We ended our trip in Trieste with the Grotto Gigante and Miramare Castle. This was a most impressive castle, and that's after seeing castles in four countries. The decorations were really exquisite. This was the home of a Hapsburg Archduke who was appointed Emperor of Mexico ... where they assassinated him.
Then after 30 hours of travel during which Hy slept 30 minutes, we arrived back in Ithaca. We had a wonderful, magical time with Joy's family. We are so thankful they took the time out for us and fed us and played board games with us until the early hours and on and on. The difficult part will be sorting through the 1300 pictures and videos to see which get shared on here. If you want to see more, come on by and we'll regale you.