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    Rome, Italy

    Spring Break Day 7 & 8: Rome, Italy
    We left Florence and arrived in Rome by train around 5:30 on Friday. We had all of Saturday to see Rome and flew back to Ankara very early on Easter Sunday.


    Rome park


    Where we stayed
    We spent two nights at Sleeping Beauty Guesthouse. The room was large, clean, and the staff was friendly and incredibly helpful.

    By the time we made it to our hostel, I was exhausted and my feet were killing me. (Wear good shoes when you travel!!!) We got dinner, then came back to the room. David turned on the news and saw that the Pope was at the Colosseum for an Easter lighting ceremony. I stayed in, but he went to check it out. He ended up missing the Pope by about 20 minutes.


    Colosseum with moon


    Before we left for our trip, we pre-booked 8:45 am tickets to the Vatican and signed up for the breakfast inclusion, because it was the only advanced deal left. It actually worked out great. It was a typical American continental spread, and it gave us enough energy to make it through the afternoon. We walked through the many halls of the Vatican, saw the Sistine Chapel (gorgeous!), and stopped in Saint Peter’s Basilica.

    We had a rainy day for touring Rome. (The gelato did make up for it!)

    After the Vatican, we visited the Colosseum. David was especially excited because his mom had visited it and told him about it in homeschool. It’s kind of a morbid place to tour, if you think about it. So many people were murdered and martyred inside. I’ve been studying Romans this semester with my Bible study group, and it made me think about how greatly Paul longed to encourage the body in Rome.

    After the Colosseum, we searched for the Secret Vatican Keyhole. It’s nowhere near the Vatican, but gives you the most amazing, aligned view of St. Peter’s! The hole looks through The Knights of Malta gardens. We found other beautiful garden views in a nearby convent.

    Where we ate:
    At the suggestions of our hostel, we ate at Spaccio Pasta and Trattoria Pizzeria Da Simonetta. Both were walking distance from where we stayed. Neither were particularly amazing, but were cheap and tasty. Spaccio seemed more like a chain restaurant. Simonetta was a rustic, local restaurant. I had a delicious eggplant casserole dish. The owner was so proud when I told him how good it was and told me his mama made it.


    Vatican breakfast




    Vatican hall

    Vatican art


    St. Peter's Basilica


    Gelato cone


    Colosseum sign


    Colosseum rocks


    Colosseum maze


    Colosseum cross


    David and Leah in Colosseum


    David looking through keyhole


    The Knights of Malta keyhole


    David in front of old door


    Orange tree through hole


    We had a stressful time getting back home. We experienced a bit of reverse culture shock in dealing with the shuttle to the airport. Terravision leaves right when it says it does. I don’t know what we were thinking… I guess we were used to people loading around the time on the ticket, since that’s usually what happens in Turkey. We missed our shuttle, but fortunately they let us hop on the next bus an hour later. That put us at the airport just an hour before our international flight. We sprinted through the airport to check our bags and stood in the longest customs line we’d ever seen. (We should have known better since it was Easter weekend!) By the grace of God we made it through and safely back to Ankara.


    We loved our trip to Paris, Venice, Florence, and Rome. It was David’s and my first Europe trip on our own! We came back to school refreshed. It was the trip of a lifetime!



    Paris: Notre Dame, Lock Bridge, and More!

    Spring Break Day Three: Our last day in Paris
    We packed in the sights again on our last day. Fortunately, the skies were clear! It made a HUGE difference in getting around town.

    First stop: Notre Dame during the morning this time. I was a little skeptical about seeing it again. When we saw Notre Dame our first night, we walked right in the doors. This time there was a long line out front. However, the line moved really quickly, and it was so worth seeing the stained glass windows during the day time. They were stunning.


    Notre Dame


    Notre Dame gargoyles


    Notre Dame Entry


    Notre Dame chandeliers and windows


    Notre Dame window


    Notre Dame stained glass


    Notre Dame candles


    Even though it was on our list of things to see, we didn’t realize the lock bridge was right behind Notre Dame! We ran into it on accident. We did not leave our own lock. We contemplated writing on someone else’s lock, but it just didn’t feel right. Oh well! We ran into a wedding shoot while we were there.


    Lock bridge with Notre Dame in back


    Lock Bridge in Paris


    Paris lock bridge


    Wedding at lock bridge


    After that, we hopped on the metro to see the Eiffel again:


    Us with the Eiffel Tower


    Next, we took the metro to see the Moulin Rouge. It was in a sketchy part of town. We got off the metro, took a photo, then got back on the metro. We went back across town to get some dinner.


    Moulin Rouge


    We ate an incredible cheese fondue and followed it up with crème brûlée. And since we had never had them before, we stopped in a shop for some macaroons. (Chocolate was our favorite. It was like a brownie!)




    We had hoped to find a cheap river cruise to take us back over by the Eiffel, but none were to be had.


    Paris river at night


    So it was back on the metro to see the Eiffel Tower lit up at night. Did you know it twinkles on the hour? That was a fun surprise.


    Eiffel Tower at night


    Eiffel Tower twinkling


    Looking back on the day, I still can’t believe how much we saw. We really made the most of our time in the City of Light!

    We left France early the next morning for Italy. Next up – Venice!



    Paris: Monuments

    Spring Break Day Two: Paris Part Two
    After our morning in the Louvre, we set out to check the monuments off our list. But first things first, it was time for a snack. I read a few blogs before our trip, and heard that a stop at Angelina was a must. We stood in line for a hot second before we saw the restaurant prices, then realized we could go to the pastry counter for a cup of their coveted hot chocolate. You guys. Best. Hot. Chocolate. Ever. In the world of hot chocolates.




    From there, we walked to the Arc de Triomphe. (This was not the wisest decision. I killed my feet during this trip.) We also went inside and up to the top of the arc. The monument honors those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and the Napoleonic Wars. It was cold and windy, but the view of Paris was well worth the walk up the 284 winding steps. The arc stands over 160 feet tall! We also got our first clear view of the Eiffel Tower.


    David and Leah by Arc de Triomphe


    Arc de Triomphe street view


    Arc de Triomphe arcs


    Arc de Triomphe detail


    Arc de Triomphe winding stairs


    Paris street


    Eiffel tower from the Arc de Triomphe


    On top of the Arc de Triomphe


    After the arc, we took the metro to see the Eiffel Tower up close. Honestly, we tried to fit too much into one day. By this point, our feet were so tired, we were hungry and grumpy (hangry), and it was getting colder and rainier. We decided to come back the next day. (We actually ended up going twice – once in the day time and once at night. Yes, we are crazy.) Our first time under the Eiffel? Not so romantic. However, it is a beautiful, massive structure.


    David with the Eiffel Tower


    Eiffel Tower from below


    Eiffel Tower through flowers


    Eiffel Tower Details


    Eiffel Tower Leg


    Rainy Eiffel Tower