Sunday, September 30, 2007

We're Back!

We are back home and recovering from our trip.We had a wonderful time in Italy, but we are happy to be back. It is nice to sleep in our own bed and see our dogs again (who seemed to be just as happy to see us). It is also nice to start seeing familiar faces again. I was able to play in The Ralph Zaragoza Memorial golf tournament yesterday, which was a lot of fun ( not that I played all that well, but it was nice to see everyone there. BTW, Tony and the rest of his family do a great job putting that tournament together - if you are looking for a fun golf scramble to play in that does not cost an arm and a leg, but is still a lot of fun and supports a good organization, you should definitely consider "The Ralph").

We have also been catching up on our rest. Friday night, Leah decided to take a quick nap at about 4:00, but instead of waking up later that afternoon/evening, she slept all the way through 5:30 the next morning! It is amazing to realize how tired you can get after going so hard for so long.

Other than that, we are just catching up on all of the stuff we need to have in order before we start our "normal" lives once again tomorrow morning. Hope things are well with all of you.

Kris & Leah

Saturday, September 29, 2007

In the wee small hours of the morning...

Well, I am writing this as we wait to leave for the airport here in Venice. The shuttle boat to the airport leaves the main square (Piazza del San Marco) at 4:00 AM in order for us to get to the airport in time to catch our flight. At first, we thought that we would turn in early so that we would have plenty of rest to get up in time to get to the dock. Then, we thought we could just stay at the pub closest to our hotel until about 2:00, then go back to the room, shower, pack, and be on our way, but they decided to close at 12:30 tonight (I have a feeling that Italy must have lost their soccer match tonight, otherwise, I am sure people would be out and about). So, all of that to say that we stayed at the bar until about 12:30, and then I am going to blog for a little bit to stay awake, while Leah sleeps for an hour or two before we get up to catch the shuttle. Part of my reluctance to go to sleep also has to do with the mosquitoes in our hotel room. I think because of the rain, we have had an inordinate amount of mosquitoes in our room here in Venice, and they have feasted on me (for some reason, Leah has gone most of the way without getting bitten too often). They wake me up as the buzz by my ears during the evening, and I wake up with multiple bites on any part of me that wasn’t under the covers for the entire evening.

Despite the mosquitoes, we have had a wonderful time here in Venice. I think Leah posted some pictures of the rain we have had today, but it really hasn’t gotten in the way of our visit too much. The umbrellas we bought our second day in Rome came in really handy yet again. I think we got each umbrella for 5 euros, which I thought was a little spendy at the time, but that may have been the best 10 euros we spent the whole trip.

Yesterday, we spent most of our time here in Venice just feeling things out and trying to figure out where we needed to be and what we needed to see. Venice is very confusing if you have a specific place to be at a specific time – it is just a maze of roads and canals. On top of that, the buildings are tall enough that you can’t see over the top to figure out where you are in relation to certain landmarks. I would think that you would need to live here for several weeks (if not months) if you really wanted to understand the layout of the city here in Venice. Thankfully, we were able to find a main route to the Rialto Bridge on one side of our hotel and another main route to Piazza del San Marco on the other side of our hotel, and that was about as much as we needed for the majority of our stay here. There were a few times where we wandered off those main routes, but it was fairly easy to get back to a place where we could find our way back.
First thing this morning, we went to the Doge’s palace (Palazzo Ducale), which is really the building that was used as the model for the outside of The Venetian Hotel & Casino is Las Vegas. As with many of the royal residences we have seen over the last few days, this was extremely impressive. However, different from most of the palaces we have seen here, this one was actually used for most (if not all) of the government happenings of the time in addition to housing the Doge of Venice. At the height of the Republic of Venice, they were not only concerned with their responsibility to religion, but also to the more secular knowledge of the time. You can tell that this place is very different than any of the other places we have seen to date here in Italy in that respect. That being said, the palace still had a special door for the Doge to enter St Mark’s Basilica, and his own chapel there.

Speaking of San Marco’s Basilica, we were able to visit that a little later this afternoon. Along with most of the rest of Venice, it was very different from most of the rest of the churches we have seen on this trip, but still very beautiful. Instead of being decorated with Frescoes and larger-than-life sculptures, the Basilica was dominated by beautiful mosaics. Both on the ceilings and the walls, you would find mosaics comprised mostly of gold tiles that just shone in the afternoon light that entered from the few openings in the back of the Basilica. We were also able to see the treasury of the church, which included many treasures collected in the name of the church during the time when Venice ruled much of the trading industry in this part of the world, but maybe the most impressive part of the Basilica was the Pala D’Oro (golden alterpiece). This sat right behind the remains of St. Mark himself, and is a reflection of how wealthy the republic of Venice truly was in its heyday. It was probably 4 feet wide by 5-8 feet long, and it was made completely of gold and jewels. It is one of those things that if someone made a replica, you would probably dismiss their effort as being too over-the-top to be believable.

In between the Palazzo Ducale and St. Mark’s basilica, we visited the Scuola San Rocco, on Jennifer Barbour’s suggestion, and it was definitely worth the trip. This Scuola is billed as “Tintoretto’s Sistine Chapel”, and is definitely worth that label. It is amazing to see not only the technical work he put into actually painting every canvas for this particular scuola, but also the thought that he put into what he would paint and the placement of each painting. It seems like it was fairly rare for a single artist to paint every work of art in a single church, but this scuola was the exception. It is fairly awe-inspiring to think of his vision and how it seemed like he had the whole thing planned out even before he put a drop of paint on the first canvas. While you may get differing opinions on the Sistine Chapel and how it compares to Tintoretto’s work in this scuola from Leah and I, this work was extremely impressive and worth seeing (thanks, Jennifer).

After all of our sight-seeing, we took some time to go back to our room and rest a little bit (and get eaten by mosquitoes) before we headed out for the evening. After getting up and around, we decided to go on the obligatory gondola ride here in Venice. While this was extremely expensive, and something that we would likely not do again if we returned to Venice, it was something we enjoyed more than we thought we would and are definitely glad that we did it. It came down to the fact that we just didn’t know that we would ever have the chance again, so we decided to just do it. Our gondolier was supposedly a 5th generation gondolier and had bee doing it for 15 years, despite not looking much older than Leah or myself (although that is getting less and less difficult to say these days). After that, we went to a café called “The Florian”, which is the oldest Café on the Piazza del San Marco, and has had numerous famous patrons (or so we’re told). While it was extremely expensive, it was fun to think about how many people had sat there before us drinking the same espresso we were, and looking out over the square.

I know we have used this word several times in posting these blog entries, but Venice has been an extremely surreal experience. Mostly when just standing in Piazza del San Marco, it felt like we were in a movie or painting, or something even more grandiose. It is hard to believe that you are actually experiencing so many of these things that you have seen or heard about through other means. I wonder if it will be different the second time around, but for now, this entire trip has been just one amazement after another.

It is hard to believe that we will be heading home in a couple of hours, but as much fun as we have had, I think we are ready to come home. If nothing else, it will be good for us to get some regular rest so that we aren’t always dragging at the end of the day, but it will also be nice to get home and see our dogs and all that is normal to us. I also start a new job when I get back (still at HP in Boise) that I am really looking forward to, so I am sure that will present many new challenges for us.

Thank you for following along with us as we made our way through Italy. We hope to keep this blog up to date with whatever else is going on in our lives in the future (although I doubt we will update it as frequently as we have over the last couple of weeks), so please feel free to stay up to date with what is going on in our lives (if that is something you really want).

Kris & Leah

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Wet and rainy!!

Hello everyone. This will be a quick post as I am about out of time. We made it to Venice...what a great place. So different from all the other stops we've made. I wish we had one more day to wander around. We are going to try and see most of the sights but due to the rain they are packed!!! So we may just end up drinking a lot of beer and wine in an effort to stay dry!! But we are up for getting wet....becuaes we already are! Jennifer we are going to try and make it to the place you suggested in your last comment. We'll let you know how it is.
This is our last post from Italy...we will try to post again tomorrow night once we've reached Seattle!!
9/26- This is my attempt to take a picture of the gutters spewing water off Doge's Palace...crazy!

9/26- We woke up very early this morning to loud thunder and exciting lighting. It has been pouring rain here. This was Piazza del San Marco this morning before we went through Doge's Palace. Now it is under quite a bit more water (lowest point in town) so they have temp. elevated walkways everywhere. Pretty crazy...some spots in the Piazza are at least a foot deep in water right now.

9/25 - Kris in front of Doge's Palace. Dad and Morgan would love this palace!!

9/25 Piazza del San Marco in Vencie

9/24 Kris and I enjoying a bottle of wine on the patio at Castell'in Villa.

9/24 - I think this is the happiest I've seen Kris this entire trip. Our first offical wine tasting - Montalcino.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

on the road again...

We are on a train going from Florence to Venice right now (well, at least we are writing it on the train – we don’t have internet access here, so we will have to wait to post this until we get to Venice).

This means that the Tuscany portion of our trip is finished, and I have to say that we are a little sad about that. Tuscany was the main reason that Leah chose to come to Italy in the first place, and it definitely lived up to all of our expectations (although I have to admit that our minds are not the only things that expanded in our time in Tuscany – I am sure our waistlines did the same).

As we mentioned earlier, we hit San Gimignano (known for its medieval towers, used to protect the aristocracy from attackers), Volterra, and Siena. We kind of ran out of time in Siena, as we visited late on a Sunday afternoon, and many things were closing. We did see plenty there, however/ Maybe the most impressive was the main square in town, where the city hall was the center (as opposed to most towns, where the church is in the center), and twice a year, they convert it into a track for horse racing. One rider from each of 10 (or12) neighborhoods in Siena rides for the pride of their area and bragging rights until the next race. They fit 15,000 spectators both inside of the “track” and in the balconies, and then bring in sand to line the actual racing portion of the track – quite a production, from what I understand.

Yesterday was our main wine tasting/buying day. We hit the towns of Montalcino and Montepulciano (both known for specific types of Italian wine), and then finished in Cortona (that of the movie “Under the Tuscan Sun”, and Leah’s one must-see town in Tuscany).
Montalcino is famous for their Brunello di Montalcino wine, and we were able to taste several different versions of the wine. Lucky for us, there was a lady from Denmark, who had been an exchange student in Wyoming (of all places – sorry, Jeanne) that helped us at the Enotecha (wine shop). She was extremely knowledgeable and was actually able to help us a great deal because she spoke such fluent English. Unfortunately, the Brunello is a fairly expensive wine (and shipping rates are fairly ridiculous), so we weren’t abel to get as much as either she or I would have liked, but we did come out of there with some, and we are very much looking forward to receiving it in a few weeks.

Next was Montepulciano, which is famous for their Nobile di Montepulciano. These towns are maybe only 15-20 miles aparts from each other, but they are associated with specific wine regions that produce fairly different (or at least fairly different, considering their proximity) types of wine from the same grape. We got there about the time that everything was closing for lunch, so we sat down in the main square and had some lunch ourselves. It is a little strange getting used to everything closing for an hour or so in the middle of the day. After things opened up again, we went to the oldest wine procuder in town (Contucci), and received a tour from a man names Andamo, who must have been very passionate about his wine. He treated every visitor like they were both his first and last all rolled up into one, and did so with a great exuberance. It is people like him that make traveling to different places very gratifying. This wine was quite a bit cheaper, and that is a good thing, since Leah liked it A LOT, so we got a few bottles and are looking forward to receiving it in the mail as well.

Cortona was a little bit different in that we really didn’t go for the wine, but instead to just “soak it all in” (Leah’s favorite activity here in Tuscany). It is also a little different from all of the other towns in that it was extremely hilly. Everything in town seems to emanate either up or down from one flat street that runs through the middle of town. It was very picturesque (which I am sure played a role in the decision to film the movie here), and provides a breathtaking view from the top of the hill where it sits. It may be my imagination, but it seemed like there were more than the normal amount of female tourists looking to live out their own version of “Under the Tuscan Sun”, but I can definitely say that I can now see why they would pick such a place to do so.

After all of that driving around, we actually made it back to the winery, where we stayed for our three nights in the Tuscan countryside, before sunset, so we decided to share a bottle of their wine out on the terrace facing the west. It was yet another surreal moment in a trip that has provided many so far. After the sun had set, we left for dinner at the winery’s own restaurant (If you are still reading, and would like to hear more about the meal, please read on. Otherwise, ciao! We will post again soon from Venice)

The lady in charge of the Agritourismo (basically a B&B on a farm or winery) where we stayed was great, and dinner this night was a perfect example. I guess the restaurant at the winery is open for either lunch or dinner, but not both (as it is in a fairly remote area, and there can’t be much clientele for a restaurant as fancy as this). Anyway, they had a large group earlier in the day for lunch and had planned to close for dinner, as is normal. Well, instead, Coralia (the lady who worked with us) asked them to stay since we had at one time expressed an interest in eating at the restaurant, and this would be our last night with them. They graciously complied, so when we walked in that night, we had this beautiful restaurant all to ourselves. The only other people there were the chef in the back, and the waiter/chef that waited on us. I wish we would have taken a picture so we could show you how nice this was.

Seated in what was now our own private restaurant, the waiter started us off with some sparkling wine before telling us our menu options. After we ordered, he then brought us a bottle of their ’95 riserva chianti classico to have with our meal. The first course consisted of zucchini flowers stuffed with ricotta cheese, drizzled with olive oil and garnished with a small amount of pesto. When we ordered, I thought that this meant they would cut some zucchini up into the shape of a flower, and then stuff that, but it turns out that they actually harvested the flowers from a zucchini plant and used those. It sounds a little strange, but it was very good. That course was followed by a pecorino cheese tortellini with eggplant. The pasta was stuffed with the pecorino (as you would expect), and then placed on top of an eggplant & garlic puree (for lack of a better term) and then garnished with fried eggplant slices. I think this was our favorite dish of the night (maybe of the trip) – even though I am not usually a big fan of eggplant, this was great. The third course was a spaghetti-type pasta with a sweet pepper red sauce and venison. They followed this with the main course – roasted pigeon with a twice-baked gold potato. Again, ordering pigeon sounded a little strange to us, but we thought we would give it a try and it was definitely worth it. The flavor was great, and the meat was very tender. Lastly, they brought dessert out to us. Leah had a lavender-mint mousse with strawberries and I had an Italian version of flan – both were very good. The whole experience was just amazing – we definitely felt spoiled at the end of the night.

That is it for now. Hopefully we will be able to post again soon with great stories of Venice.

Kris & Leah

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Pinch me I must be dreaming...

We left Florence yesterday (9-22), picked up our rental car and headed out to the Chianti region of Italy. We spent most of the day driving and stopping at little towns along the way - lunch in Greve. We also stopped at the wine museum & tasting room in Greve (although the museum part was relatively small and insignificant). They had over 150 wines to taste, and dispensed them in a sort of wine vending machine, where you would buy a tasting card for a certain amount of money, chose the wine that you wanted to taste, and pushed a button right above it to dispense the wine out of a little fountain. It is a little difficult to explain, but it was really cool (we should have taken a picture).
After Greve, we went to our Agritourismo, which is absolutely wonderful. That being said, we were very lucky that we actually got there. We actually found the winery associated with the B&B fairly easily, but no one was there at all. We looked just about everywhere we could to find someone until we went to the kitchen of the restaurant there to ask one of the cooks what to do. Of course, he didn,t speak any english, so it wasn't much help, but at least he knew that we were there for the B&B. Just as we were about to leave (as our rented cell phone didn't get service there), we saw a lady chasing after us. It turns out that the cook left a message on her phone saying that some people were looking for her, and she checked her message after she had just gotten back from harvesting the grapes. As luck would have it, she got the reservation wrong and thought that we were coming in the next day, so if she wouldn't have caught us then, we would have been out of luck altogether last night. Anyway, everything got settled, and we love staying there (we will post more pictures later).
We spent most of today visiting different Tuscan Hill towns. Starting with San Gimignano, then to Volterra, and then fiinishing up right now in Siena. Everything was beuatiful and looked just like you would expect a Tuscan hill town to look. It was very cool to see these places, portrayed in so many movies and pictures, in person - they are really as beautiful as you would expect.
This may be our only post from Tuscany, as we have to drive several km to get to an internet cafè, but we should have wifi at the place where we are staying in Venice, so we should be able to make them fairly regularly again soon. Hope all is going well on your end.
-Kris & Leah
Day 6, Tuscany (outside of Siena). This is the Agritourismo we are staying at.
It is so beautiful here...we are still in awe. Waiting for someone to tell us they made a mistake
and we need to move down the street...2 pools, amazing views!

Day 6 - Florence, rubbing il porcellino for good luck!
Right in front of our hotel.

Day 5 - Florence, top of Duomo looking over Florence

Day 4 - Florence, Ponte Vecchio bridge

Friday, September 21, 2007

I love it...

We are sitting here in Florence, Italy in an Irish pub, drinking German beer and watching rugby with our new French friends. Really this is a small world. We make it bigger than it really is.

A day in Florence...

I love Florence...I love Rome...but I LOVE Florence. So much more laid back. Easy going...and clean!! We are having such a wonderful time. We have seen so much art and history my brain is just absolutly mush. I'm not complaining, it is so wonderful but I'm beginning to understand why people spend years here studying this stuff. It is so much to take in and really digest.

I think Kris already mentioned we visited the Pitti Palace and the Sience Museum yesterday. I would love to come back and spend more time at the Pitti consist of 3 museums and a garden tour. We only had time for one! Where we went in the palace you could see the gardens...AMAZING. Mom you would love it! Granted I only saw it for a moment. We ran into a couple that said it took them 4 hours to get through just the gardens! If I had lived back then I sure would want to have lived in a place like the Pitti Palace!!

Today we started off climbing the dome at the Duomo. I'll post pics later...way cool. Huge!! Then we headed to the Bargello, then the Uffizi (holy cow...I can't explain all the amazing art it!!), the Accademia to see David (wow), the Duomo babtistry, and finally the Duomo museum. All incredibly amazing. I have to admit I am looking forward to not visiting a museum over in the next 3 days. We pick up our rental car tomorrow and we will be visiting the small towns of Tuscany....and drinking a lot of wine.

My legs and feet are so tired. My brain especially is swollen!! I love it though. I just don't want to come home. I think I will stay here and send for all of you :) Maria - please buy your place in Luca...I will take care of it for you!!

Love to all...

Thursday, September 20, 2007


Ok, here are a few more...hopfully more to come!
Day 4 (9/20) - Florence

Day 2 (9/18) - Trevi Fountain - throwing a coin in the fountain to insure our return to Rome!!

Day 2 (9/18) - Trevi Fountain

Day 2 (9/18) - enjoying a gellato!

Day 2 (9/18) - Kris's favorite part of the Pantheon

Day 2 (9/18) - Pantheon

Day 2 (9/18) - Roman Forum

Day 2 (9/18) - Arch of Septimius Severus, Roman ForumDay 2 (9/18) - Colosseum

Day 2 (9/18) - Colosseum

Day 1 (9/17) - Inside St. Peter's

Off to Florence!

After three days in Rome, we left for Florence today. Rome was wonderful, and it was hard to b elieve that it was time for us to leave, but we are excited to get to Florence! It is hard to believe that we have already been in Italy for four days now (unless you ask our feet, in which case, it feels like we have been here for four weeks).

Anyway, we arrived in Florence about noon today and found that the room at our B&B overlooks a cool outdoor market (Leah may post a picture later that shows our view). It is right in the middle of almost everything we want to see here, so we should be in much better shape than in Rome (If we were to change one thing about our stay in Rome, we would probably stay closer to the center of town. We stayed near the main train station so that we would have easy access to most everything, but it was a little further away from most of the sites than we would of liked. Also, it was in a chinatown-type area of Rome, so when we went out to look for good Italian food & culture, we found a lot of Asian influence, which is not bad, but not necessarily what we were looking for during our three days in Rome). Florence has a much more small town-type feel than Rome, and that is a nice change of pace. Don't get me wrong, there are still plenty of people out in the streets here, but it seems a little more laid-back.

Once we got checked in, we took in a couple of sites. We first went to the Pitti Palace, which used to be the main residence/compound for the Medici family that ruled Florence for many years. This was fairly interesting, as it housed many paintings from several prominent Italian artists, and also had a few rooms decorated closely to how they would have been at the height of the Medici family's power. After the Pitti Palace, we took a whirlwind look at the Science Museum. We had to get through the whole museum in an hour because we took a little longer than expected at the Pitti Palace. The museum had many different types of scientific instruments used by the people of the 17th & 18th century, which were all very interesting, but probably the highlight of the museum was the stuff they had from Galileo. They had some of his instruments, including a couple of his telescopes, adn amazingly enough, they even had the preserved middle finger from his right hand. I have no idea who thought to preserve that, or even why, but it is right there for everyone to look at.

Tomorrow, we have a couple different art galleries (including the one that houses Michelangelo's David), and the main church here in Florence, so we are trying to rest our feet as much as possible until we have to leave in the morning.

For those of you interested in only our day's events, this is the end of the post for the day. For those of you interested in hearing about the food (and a quick NFL comment at the very end), read on...

I didn't say a whole lot about the food in the first couple of posts because I was basically following the rule that says: "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all". For the first couple of days, almost all of our meals were made of either espresso & pastries or pizza, or panini sandwiches. All of these were fairly good, but nothing really worthy of note. The one meal we did decide to take the time to enjoy was horrible. Several people told us just to look for hole-in-the-wall-type places to eat, and it turns out that our first choice was not good at all. I had a chef's special (which turned out to be risotto and cheese, as in the kraft macaroni and cheese except with risotto), and Leah had some gnocchi that was covered in what tasted like chef boyardee sauce and a salad that didn't come with any dressing. All of that and two glasses of the house wine cost a little over 45 euro (60 dollars). Also, keep in mind that teh portions are quite a bit smaller here, so when I talk about all of these multi-course meals, we are not bursting at the seams (or at least any more than normal) trying to choke them down.

Yesterday, instead of taking our chances with guessing, we followed the advice of the guidebook we have been using, and things got a lot better. For lunch, I had a pasta carbonara dish and Leah had a plate of melted scamorza cheese (like a stronger version of mozzerella) with Proscuitto ham draped over the top, and both were wonderful. Everything was so fresh that you could just taste the difference from the night before.

Last night, we had a fairly elaborate meal that will be difficult to top the rest of the trip. We started out with canteloupe wrapped in Prosciutto ham (which I am guessing that we will be serving to our own guests the next time we have the occassion), and that was followed with gnocchi in a black truffle sauce. Neither of us had tasted truffles before, so we thought it would be fun to try. While it was not our favorite dish, I can definitely see the allure - it was so rich and tasty that it was tough to put down. After the gnocchi, they brought us some canelloni stuffed with a type of mild sausage, and followed that with the most delicious filet of beef in a balsamic vinegar reduction with a little garlic mixed in. I am definitely going to have to figure out how to put this together - I don't think it should be that hard, but it may take a few tries to get it just right. All of that paired with a pretty decent house wine was about as good as you could ask for.

Tonight, we had a meal that was similarly great. We started out with a standard caprese salad, which tasted just a little bit better because we were in Florence, followed by a spinach & ricotta ravioli dish with a walnut sauce. The walnut sauce sounded kind of weird on the menu, but it was really good. I can't imagine that it would be good with everything, but I am going to have to learn how to make it because it was great with the ravioli tonight, and it was so different from anything else I have tasted before that it was a cool surprise. The main course was a chicken milano, and it was very good, but not spectacular - pretty standard stuff. However, we had what they call "Panna Cotta", which is a cooked cream dessert covered in a homemade chocolate sauce. I have no idea how they make this, but it tasted like whipped heavy cream that is the consistency of a light custard. It is very difficult to describe, but very easy to eat - it was fantastic!

That is about it so far when it comes to food. I think we just had bad luck with the first place because everything else has been very good. It is amazing to taste how fresh everything is here - it definitely makes a difference. If you are really still reading and want to hear me talk about the NFL for a quick moment (Carsten, I hope that is you), please read on. Otherwise, we will post again tomorrow - see you then!

As dor the NFL, is there really a more boring and predictable sports league right now? At least the NBA allows you to wonder if the game is being fixed by a referee. I have now gone the first two weeks of the season (the most exciting part of the season, IMHO) without watching a single game, and I don't miss is one bit. I never realized how much following Jake was keeping me interested in the league, but I think that was the only thing (along with fantasy football, which I have already proven that you don't really have to follow the NFL as long as you don't mind not winning each year). I have checked the Broncos scores, and it looks like after a decisive 15-14 victory over the powerhouse Bills team, they followed up with a 23-20 annihilation of the juggernaut that is the Oakland Raiders at home. That just screams "Super Bowl Champions" to me. I initially said that they would go 9-7 this year, but judging from those scores, they will be lucky to make it to .500 this year - they must be absolutely horrific. They have just been lucky enough to have two of the worst 5 teams in the league the first two weeks of the season. I also like how their "revamped" defense gave up 20 points to a team that was last in the league in offense last year, lost one of the best receivers in the league in teh offseason, and neglected to sign the very first pick in the draft until it was too late for him to make a difference this year. That is embarassing.


St. Peter's of my fav's. Ooops running out of time on on the PC at cafe...will be back later tonight!! Off to have a good dinner!!!

We started out our trip in Seattle...we were able to visit some of the fam! Bob, Linda, Kris and I having drinks!!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

technical difficulties

Sorry we haven't had the chance to post any pictures yet. For some reason, we can't get a USB drive to work on any of the machines in the internet cafes, and it looks like our voltage converter cannot be used with laptops. Leah has been dutifully uploading pictures to the laptop while it is plugged into our voltage converter, but neither of us realized it wasn't charging the battery while plugged in. Needless to say, the battery is completely dead and that may mean no pictueres until we get home. If we can get the USB drive working at one of the internet cafes here, we will definitely have a few pictures from our first couple of days, but probably no more until we get back. Sorry for the difficulties.

Change of Plans...

We are moving to Rome...ahahaa...just kidding. Today we had planned to go to Pompeii but after considering the time it would take to get there and back and the cost of the train ticket we decided to stay put. To be quite honest we were ready for a day of just wandering around.

So, to start off with we headed back to the Vatican. We had espresso, pastry and fuit at a little cafe outside of the was really good! Although it was good, there isn't a whole lot else to say about it...other than Kris did comment on how much he liked the epresso at this place than at the place we tried yesterday. The pastries were good and the fruit salad hit the spot.

On arriving at the Vatican we lucked out and were able to be present for the Pope's blessing. What an event! The Pope enters St. Peter's square in the popemobile and drives through the crowd waving...and then all the talking begins in many different languages! It was nice, long and we have offically been blessed by the Pope...and they were kind enough to mention that this blessing extends to our family!!

After the Vatican we headed to the Borghese Villa (big, beautiful park I wish I had time to get lost in) and then over to the Spanish steps. We had lunch at a little place near the steps...Jennifer - I'll let Kris go into detail a little on the food...all I can tell you is that it was delicious...the best meal we have had hear so far...but I think we are in for a treat tonight at dinner. Kris has a great place picked out - a 5 course meal of some sort!!! I'm sure we will have lots to report on that tomorrow.

After lunch we went back to the Vatican. St. Peter's is not a place you can take in at a fast pace...hence this was our 3rd time there in 3 days!! I absolutly love it there...beatiful, breathtaking and pretty much flat out unbelievable...the size the sculptures, the mosaics...Beautiful, wish you were here (that's for you Jennifer!!).

So now we are here at the lunderette washing our very stinky clothes. We have sweat so much the last 3 days... We are off to Florence tomorrow.

Thinking of you all and wishing you were here!!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Ahhhhh Roma!

Buona sera! Well we started our second day in Rome with our first Italian espresso...and it tasted like espresso only better (only becuase we are actually in Rome!). Our first sight of the day was San Pietro in Vincoli (St. Peter in Chains Church)...amazing and wonderful. At the front of the church in a box are the actual chains St. Peter was held prisoner with. We have pictures...and agin will try to post them soon...having a few technical difficulties at the moment. This church is also the home of Michelangelo's Moses (sculpture)...again amazing...which almost everything here is. Although these sculptures are something else...the detials are unbelieveable.

Around the corner is the it! I spent the entire time in awe over the fact that people that long ago had the inginuity to build something that big and complex. Although I am sad at how much it has decayed (actually this is how I feel about a lot of the sights here).

After the Colosseum was the Roman Forum and Palantine Hill, the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain (which I tossed a whole quarter in so I better be coming back to Rome!), Borghese Gallery and finally the Spanish steps. Each of these equally amazing...however I LOVED the Borghese Gallery...I wish so much I could go back to all of these tomorrow!

Anywho...hopefully off to Pompei tomorrow...and hopefully we will post pictures tomorrow as well...Ciao!

Monday, September 17, 2007

15 Hours and we are here....exhausted!!!

Ciao! We made it to Rome. We spent the day at the Vatican...and we are tired. Neither Kris or I slept on the plane so we have been awake now for 31 hours. We just ate our first gelato and we are headed back to our room to pass out!! The Vatican was great, amazing....and really old. The Sistine chapel wasnt anything like I imagined it...and St. Peters was great! I would love to spend more time there!

Love to all.... Leah

I also wanted to chime in real quick. We are finding that getting around the city is a little tougher than we had first imagined. We spent a good 45 minutes after we got off the metro trying to find our hotel, even though we had "explicit" directions and a good address. We have also had several occassions where we had the map turned the wrong way and ended up further away from our destination than we first started. I don't know that Rome is that difficult to navigate, but with the lack of sleep and the lack of time to bruch up on our Italian, it is proving to be a relatively difficult task so far - we are hoping to do a little better tomorrow.

Like Leah metnioned, most all of our day was spent at the vatican. I can't stress enough how spectacular it is in person. You can see movies and pictures, and they will never do it justice. The first part of the tour was spent int he vatican museum, which was full of more sculptures, frescoes, and tapestries than you would ever believe lived in one place. After the museum, they took us to the Sistine Chapel. This was absolutely breathtaking. Like Leah metioned, the chapel itself was not ornate with sculptures or woodwork or marble - it was entirely decorated by frescoes, but they were so amazing that you really didn't notice the other stuff "missing". Michaelangelos frescoes were absolutely apectacular. We stood there and stared for 15 straight mitues, and it felt like we we were rushing through - this is definitely something that I am happy I did before I die. Lastly, we hit St. Peter's Basilica. While the Sistine Chapel was spectacular in its own understated way, St. Peter's basilica was overwhelming in its sheer magnitude. Everything was huge and extrememly detailed. It was incredible to me how even the "minor" works in the Basilica would likely stand out on their own in most any other museum. I have never quite seen anything like ever before in my life.

Of course, after walking for four striahgt hours after the plane ride, we took some time to just sit on the steps in St. Peter's sqaure and just tried to take it all in. It seemed very surreal in that we were actually sitting right there in a place that almost seemed like a fantasy when seeing it in movies and pictures. Overall, the day was great, and I hope that I get as much out of each successive day on this trip.

I better get to bed, but we wanted to be sure and get an update in tonight before we shut things down for the evening. Hopefully, we will have some pictures to post tomorrow.

Ok, I'm back...I think the thing that suprises me the most so far is how un-foreign I feel...sure there is a little bit of a language barrier but for the most part its easy to figure everything else (well except for getting our bearings on how to navigate the city)....ok, good night!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Under the Tuscan Sun...almost!

Well, since Kris started this I thought I would take a stab at this whole blogging thing. I also wanted an excuse to try and post a picture as well.

For those of you who don't know these are our dog-children, Judd & Elway. We will miss them while off on our little adventure...although, I think they will miss us more!!

Well it's 12:28am, I just put Under the Tuscan Sun in the dvd player (for a little inspiration...not that I need any) and will attempt to finish to Seattle tomorrow...and off to Rome on Sunday! Yippee

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Welcome to the Adventures of Kris & Leah

Welcome to our new blog! In light of our upcoming trip to Italy for Leah's 30th birthday, we have decided to jump into the 21st century and create our own blog to share information about what we are doing with ayone who may actually be interested. Of course, I would imagine that the first few posts will be dominated by stories and pictures of our Italian experiences, but we are also hoping to use this venue as a way to keep everyone posted with just general things that are going in our lives. We are still just learning about managing this blog, so things may not be super-efficient at first, but hopefully we can continue to get better so this is something that we can really utilize in the future. Also, as with anything else we have to decide on together, we have already had a "discussion" as to what picture we use at the top of the blog, so if you see a picture that does not have us dressed up at Marc Marshall's wedding, you know that Leah has found a better one for all to see. I just hope you enjoy reading this as much as we enjoy doing the things for you to read about.