Our Europe Trip! 2015

I'm finally getting around to sharing some photos from our trip to Europe - hooray!  My girlfriend Danielle and I went on an outstanding 2-week trip last May to three cities in Europe: Berlin, Paris, and Florence.  It was an unforgettable trip, and it really reignited the wanderlust in me.  It was the first time either of us had been to Germany or Italy, and Danielle's first time to France.  She finally got a chance to put all those years getting good grades in French class to the test!  Needless to say, we had an amazing time, and we definitely want to travel more in the future.

 

Our first stop was Berlin, Germany.  We stayed with our friends who live there, Julia and Sam, who graciously offered us a room in their apartment - thank you, Juila and Sam!

At the top of the Reichstag building in Berlin, a glass dome allows great views of the surrounding area.  A mirrored pillar in the center of the dome directs light downwards into the parliament floor below, while a rotating shield blocks harsh, direct sunlight.  Science!

At the top of the Reichstag building in Berlin, a glass dome allows great views of the surrounding area.  A mirrored pillar in the center of the dome directs light downwards into the parliament floor below, while a rotating shield blocks harsh, direct sunlight.  Science!

A view from the base of the dome, and Danielle, Julia, and Sam.

A view from the base of the dome, and Danielle, Julia, and Sam.

At the Holocaust Memorial, you can wander through hundreds of pillars that vary in height.  The memorial's artist offers no specific explanation for the design, purposely leaving the interpretation of the memorial to the individual experiencing it.

At the Holocaust Memorial, you can wander through hundreds of pillars that vary in height.  The memorial's artist offers no specific explanation for the design, purposely leaving the interpretation of the memorial to the individual experiencing it.

The Ampelmännchen or "little traffic light men" are the cutest little traffic walk/stop signals in the world.  I don't remember why there was a field of them, but it was neat!  Also, a piece of the Berlin wall, and Julia and Danielle chatting while we waited for dinner.

The Ampelmännchen or "little traffic light men" are the cutest little traffic walk/stop signals in the world.  I don't remember why there was a field of them, but it was neat!  Also, a piece of the Berlin wall, and Julia and Danielle chatting while we waited for dinner.

While on a boat tour on the Spree river, I couldn't help but notice this fella having a smoke on his patio.  Also, the German Chancellory building, often referred to as the "Washing Machine" because of its unusual architecture.

While on a boat tour on the Spree river, I couldn't help but notice this fella having a smoke on his patio.  Also, the German Chancellory building, often referred to as the "Washing Machine" because of its unusual architecture.

We even took in a trip to Zoo Berlin!  The, um...decidedly male elephant, a sand dune cat, and a napping clouded leopard.

We even took in a trip to Zoo Berlin!  The, um...decidedly male elephant, a sand dune cat, and a napping clouded leopard.

From the Science and Technology museum in Berlin - they had an excellent photography exhibit, some of the world's first computers, and on the roof a "Rasin Bomber" - a colloquial term Berliners gave to transport aircraft, because the pilots would often throw candy, and presumably also rasins, to children below.

From the Science and Technology museum in Berlin - they had an excellent photography exhibit, some of the world's first computers, and on the roof a "Rasin Bomber" - a colloquial term Berliners gave to transport aircraft, because the pilots would often throw candy, and presumably also rasins, to children below.

Berlin Bears everywhere!

Berlin Bears everywhere!

Our next stop: Paris!  We stayed in an adorable little AirBnB in Montmartre, within walking distance to Sacre Coeur, bakeries, cheese shops, and Metro stations.

After settling into our apartment, we took a walk down to NoGlu, a bakery that specializes in gluten-free pastries, for some bomb-diggity eats.  It was rainy (and quite windy, as you can probably tell!), but it gave way to an amazing rainbow afterwards.

After settling into our apartment, we took a walk down to NoGlu, a bakery that specializes in gluten-free pastries, for some bomb-diggity eats.  It was rainy (and quite windy, as you can probably tell!), but it gave way to an amazing rainbow afterwards.

Wandering around Paris - the cafes, parks, and restaurants were all so much fun.  We ended up not going to the top of the Eiffel Tower, as the line was quite long.  But waffles with pistachio cream...yes please!

Wandering around Paris - the cafes, parks, and restaurants were all so much fun.  We ended up not going to the top of the Eiffel Tower, as the line was quite long.  But waffles with pistachio cream...yes please!

Sainte Chappelle was absolutely stunning.  I've never seen anything with such ornate detail.  It was built to house King Louis IX's collection of relics of Christ, including his crown of thorns.  The chapel is 750+ years old, which is crazy to think about.

Sainte Chappelle was absolutely stunning.  I've never seen anything with such ornate detail.  It was built to house King Louis IX's collection of relics of Christ, including his crown of thorns.  The chapel is 750+ years old, which is crazy to think about.

A bike tour of Paris was one of the highlights of the trip.  Our British tour guide, Fraser, was quite a funny dude; he was adamant that we Americans not call him Frasier (as in Frasier Crane).  And later, the train ride to Versailles seemed like a good time for a GoPro selfie :)

A bike tour of Paris was one of the highlights of the trip.  Our British tour guide, Fraser, was quite a funny dude; he was adamant that we Americans not call him Frasier (as in Frasier Crane).  And later, the train ride to Versailles seemed like a good time for a GoPro selfie :)

Opulent doesn't even begin to describe Versailles.  The murals on the ceilings were incredible, and every inch of the floors, ceilings, and walls were either marble, gold, or a painting or some kind...it reminds me of the house I'll have when I'm older :)

Opulent doesn't even begin to describe Versailles.  The murals on the ceilings were incredible, and every inch of the floors, ceilings, and walls were either marble, gold, or a painting or some kind...it reminds me of the house I'll have when I'm older :)

In the gardens of Versailles.  A cute walking path with sheep right next to us, and a perfect tree canopy made wandering around a joy.

In the gardens of Versailles.  A cute walking path with sheep right next to us, and a perfect tree canopy made wandering around a joy.

The hedges were cray-cray!

The hedges were cray-cray!

Outside Versailles on the left, and in the Louvre on the right.

Outside Versailles on the left, and in the Louvre on the right.

That's my lady Mona right there, along with about a million other people...and another GoPro selfie for good measure.

That's my lady Mona right there, along with about a million other people...and another GoPro selfie for good measure.

Just wandering around Montmartre.  Some of best parts of the trip weren't the museums, monuments, or tours, but just walking around taking in the sights and culture.  The middle photo is the market that's featured in Amelie, fyi for you movie buffs.

Just wandering around Montmartre.  Some of best parts of the trip weren't the museums, monuments, or tours, but just walking around taking in the sights and culture.  The middle photo is the market that's featured in Amelie, fyi for you movie buffs.

Our last part of the trip was the longest.  We spent 6 days in Florence, and took a couple day trips into the more rural parts of Tuscany.  My mom has friends who own an apartment, and they generously offered it to us for our stay.  Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Bonaca!

I took a little stroll around the neighborhood our first night in Florence.  I loved the warm sun low in the sky hitting the buildings, and the view of the city from a bridge over the river Arno.

I took a little stroll around the neighborhood our first night in Florence.  I loved the warm sun low in the sky hitting the buildings, and the view of the city from a bridge over the river Arno.

A few more photos around dusk.  I'm always a sucker for some light trails.

A few more photos around dusk.  I'm always a sucker for some light trails.

A rower on the Arno happened to pass underneath us as we were walking across a bridge.  That guy was moving too!

A rower on the Arno happened to pass underneath us as we were walking across a bridge.  That guy was moving too!

Climbing to the top of the bell tower, which offered great views of the cathedral and the entire city.  I remember my phone recorded upwards of 30,000 steps and 60-something flights of stairs that day...lots of walking!

Climbing to the top of the bell tower, which offered great views of the cathedral and the entire city.  I remember my phone recorded upwards of 30,000 steps and 60-something flights of stairs that day...lots of walking!

Terra cotta roofs and teeny tiny automobiles everywhere in this city - so cute!  

Terra cotta roofs and teeny tiny automobiles everywhere in this city - so cute!  

Some penguin graffiti, a delicious pizza pescatore, and fishermen in the Arno at dusk.

Some penguin graffiti, a delicious pizza pescatore, and fishermen in the Arno at dusk.

One of my favorite photos from the trip - a view of Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo at sunset.  It was a super popular spot, and for good reason.  The view was amazing.

One of my favorite photos from the trip - a view of Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo at sunset.  It was a super popular spot, and for good reason.  The view was amazing.

A cook caught me creeping on him, and a photobooth that we simply couldn't resist.  

A cook caught me creeping on him, and a photobooth that we simply couldn't resist.  

A trip to Montepulciano was one of the highlights of our Italy trip.  We visited a winery, Gattavecchi, hilariously struggled to communicate with the staff, drank some delicious wine, petted some local kitties. and took a selfie in a fire extinguisher.

A trip to Montepulciano was one of the highlights of our Italy trip.  We visited a winery, Gattavecchi, hilariously struggled to communicate with the staff, drank some delicious wine, petted some local kitties. and took a selfie in a fire extinguisher.

Montepulciano sights - a guy also doing a wine tasting (who ended up buying several cases!) kindly offered to take our photo.  Also, pullups, because there's never a bad time for pullups.

Montepulciano sights - a guy also doing a wine tasting (who ended up buying several cases!) kindly offered to take our photo.  Also, pullups, because there's never a bad time for pullups.

Staying young and getting goofy at a nearby playground.

Staying young and getting goofy at a nearby playground.

Hilltop villages in Tuscany were some of the most picturesque parts of driving around the countryside.  I don't remember exactly where we were, but Danielle was a good sport putting up with me wanting to stop the car every couple miles for a photo.  There are simply too many good views!

Hilltop villages in Tuscany were some of the most picturesque parts of driving around the countryside.  I don't remember exactly where we were, but Danielle was a good sport putting up with me wanting to stop the car every couple miles for a photo.  There are simply too many good views!

Waiting for a restaurant to open before dinner, and goofing around in a nearby playground.

Waiting for a restaurant to open before dinner, and goofing around in a nearby playground.

Sunsets in Tuscany are BOSS.  The restaurant we had dinner at, Ristoro di Lamole, was perched at the top of a hill, and had quite possibly the best view of any restaurant I've been to.

Sunsets in Tuscany are BOSS.  The restaurant we had dinner at, Ristoro di Lamole, was perched at the top of a hill, and had quite possibly the best view of any restaurant I've been to.

Cute critters everywhere!  The doggies belonged to a guy who named them Lilo and Stitch, from the Pixar movie.  The little one got away from him, and he was yelling "Steech!  Steech!" in his heavy Italian accent (although, I guess WE were the ones with the accent!).

Cute critters everywhere!  The doggies belonged to a guy who named them Lilo and Stitch, from the Pixar movie.  The little one got away from him, and he was yelling "Steech!  Steech!" in his heavy Italian accent (although, I guess WE were the ones with the accent!).

We sat and enjoyed some local musicians on the Ponte Vecchio for a while on our way back from exploring the city.

We sat and enjoyed some local musicians on the Ponte Vecchio for a while on our way back from exploring the city.

And Danielle couldn't help but dance a little bit...which may have been the wine's influence, I'm not sure :)

And Danielle couldn't help but dance a little bit...which may have been the wine's influence, I'm not sure :)

If you ever want to see some super complicated and interesting globes or Galileo's finger, you should go to the Galileo Museum in Florence.  And if you ever want to see some dope lion door knockers, go anywhere in Florence!

If you ever want to see some super complicated and interesting globes or Galileo's finger, you should go to the Galileo Museum in Florence.  And if you ever want to see some dope lion door knockers, go anywhere in Florence!

The gelato was amazing everywhere.  We had some every day while in Italy, sometimes twice a day.  (The cup pictured here featured ricotta, pistachio, and lavender!)  An indoor market had some fun decorations hanging from the ceiling.

The gelato was amazing everywhere.  We had some every day while in Italy, sometimes twice a day.  (The cup pictured here featured ricotta, pistachio, and lavender!)  An indoor market had some fun decorations hanging from the ceiling.

Taking portraits and doing pullups, two of my favorite things! 

Taking portraits and doing pullups, two of my favorite things! 

Last day of the trip.  A couple black and white views before we left, and having a last taste of Italy with some cappuccinos at the airport playing our favorite card game, Mille Bornes.

Last day of the trip.  A couple black and white views before we left, and having a last taste of Italy with some cappuccinos at the airport playing our favorite card game, Mille Bornes.